Tom Last's Posts (236)

22 hoernle part 3



7.0 Cognitive Unity
[1] WE have established that the elements for the explanation of reality are to be taken from the two spheres of perception and thought. It is due, as we have seen, to our organization that the full totality of reality, including our own selves as subjects, appears at first as a duality. Knowledge transcends this duality by fusing the two elements of reality, the percept and the concept, into the complete thing. Let us call the manner in which the world presents itself to us, before by means of knowledge it has taken on its true nature, "the world of appearance," in distinction from the unified whole composed of percept and concept. We can then say, The world is given to us as a duality (Dualism), and knowledge transforms it into a unity (Monism). A philosophy which starts from this basal principle may be called a Monistic philosophy, or Monism. Opposed to this is the theory of two worlds, or Dualism. The latter does not, by any means, assume merely that there are two sides of a single reality, which are kept apart by our organization, but that there are two worlds totally distinct from one another. It then tries to find in one of these two worlds the principle of explanation for the other.

[2] Dualism rests on a false conception of what we call knowledge. It divides the whole of reality into two spheres, each of which has its own laws, and it leaves these two worlds standing outside one another.

[3] It is from a Dualism such as this that there arises the distinction between the object of perception and the thing-in-itself, which Kant introduced into philosophy, and which, to the present day, we have not succeeded in expelling. According to our interpretation, it is due to the nature of our organization that a particular object can be given to us only as a percept. Thought transcends this particularity by assigning to each percept its proper place in the world as a whole. As long as we determine the separate parts of the cosmos as percepts, we are simply following, in this sorting out, a law of our subjective constitution. If, however, we regard all percepts, taken together, merely as one part, and contrast with this a second part, viz., the things-in-themselves, then our philosophy is building castles-in-the-air. We are then engaged in mere playing with concepts. We construct an artificial opposition, but we can find no content for the second of these opposites, seeing that no content for a particular thing can be found except in perception.

7.1 Hypothetical World Principle and Experience
[4] Every kind of reality which is assumed to exist outside the sphere of perception and conception must be relegated to the limbo of unverified hypotheses. To this category belongs the "thing-in-itself." It is, of course, quite natural that a Dualistic thinker should be unable to find the connection between the world-principle which he hypothetically assumes and the facts that are given in experience. For the hypothetical world-principle itself a content can be found only by borrowing it from experience and shutting one's eyes to the fact of the borrowing. Otherwise it remains an empty and meaningless concept, a mere form without content. In this case the Dualistic thinker generally asserts that the content of this concept is inaccessible to our knowledge. We can know only that such a content exists, but not what it is. In either case it is impossible to transcend Dualism. Even though one were to import a few abstract elements from the world of experience into the content of the thing-in-itself, it would still remain impossible to reduce the rich concrete life of experience to those few elements, which are, after all, themselves taken from experience. Du Bois-Reymond lays it down that the imperceptible atoms of matter produce sensation and feeling by means of their position and motion, and then infers from this premise that we can never find a satisfactory explanation of how matter and motion produce sensation and feeling, for

"it is absolutely and for ever unintelligible that it should be other than indifferent to a number of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen, etc., how they lie and move, how they lay or moved, or how they will lie and will move. It is in no way intelligible how consciousness can come into existence through their interaction."

This conclusion is characteristic of the whole tendency of this school of thought. Position and motion are abstracted from the rich world of percepts. They are then transferred to the fictitious world of atoms. And then we are astonished that we fail to evolve concrete life out of this principle of our own making, which we have borrowed from the world of percepts.

[5] That the Dualist, working as he does with a completely empty concept of the thing-in-itself, can reach no explanation of the world, follows from the very definition of his principle which has been given above.

[6] In any case, the Dualist finds it necessary to set impassable barriers to our faculty of knowledge. A follower of the Monistic theory of the world knows that all he needs to explain any given phenomenon in the world is to be found within this world itself. What prevents him from finding it can be only chance limitations in space and time, or defects of his organization, i.e., not of human organization in general, but only of his own.

7.2 Ego-hood's Questions and Answers
[7] It follows from the concept of knowledge, as defined by us, that there can be no talk of any limits of knowledge. Knowledge is not a concern of the universe in general, but one which men must settle for themselves. External things demand no explanation. They exist and act on one another according to laws which thought can discover. They exist in indivisible unity with these laws. But we, in our self-hood, confront them, grasping at first only what we have called percepts. However, within ourselves we find the power to discover also the other part of reality. Only when the Self has combined for itself the two elements of reality which are indivisibly bound up with one another in the world, is our thirst for knowledge stilled. The Self is then again in contact with reality.

[8] The presuppositions for the development of knowledge thus exist through and for the Self. It is the Self which sets itself the problems of knowledge. It takes them from thought, an element which in itself is absolutely clear and transparent. If we set ourselves questions which we cannot answer, it must be because the content of the questions is not in all respects clear and distinct. It is not the world which sets questions to us, but we who set them to ourselves.

[9] I can imagine that it would be quite impossible for me to answer a question which I happened to find written down somewhere, without knowing the universe of discourse from which the content of the question is taken.

7.3 Reconcile Familiar Perceptions and Concepts
[10] In knowledge we are concerned with questions which arise for us through the fact that a world of percepts, conditioned by time, space, and our subjective organization, stands over against a world of concepts expressing the totality of the universe. Our task consists in the assimilation to one another of these two spheres, with both of which we are familiar. There is no room here for talking about limits of knowledge. It may be that, at a particular moment, this or that remains unexplained because, through chance obstacles, we are prevented from perceiving the things involved. What is not found today, however, may easily be found tomorrow. The limits due to these causes are only contingent, and must be overcome by the progress of perception and thought.

7.4 Conceptual Representation Of Objective Reality
[11] Dualism makes the mistake of transferring the opposition of subject and object, which has meaning only within the perceptual world, to pure conceptual entities outside this world. Now the distinct and separate things in the perceptual world remain separated only so long as the perceiver refrains from thinking. For thought cancels all separation and reveals it as due to purely subjective conditions. The Dualist, therefore, transfers to entities transcending the perceptual world abstract determinations which, even in the perceptual world, have no absolute, but only relative, validity. He thus divides the two factors concerned in the process of knowledge, viz., percept and concept, into four: (1) the object in itself; (2) the percept which the subject has of the object; (3) the subject; (4) the concept which relates the percept to the object in itself. The relation between subject and object is "real"; the subject is really (dynamically) influenced by the object. This real process does not appear in consciousness. But it evokes in the subject a response to the stimulation from the object. The result of this response is the percept. This, at length, appears in consciousness. The object has an objective (independent of the subject) reality, the percept a subjective reality. This subjective reality is referred by the subject to the object. This reference is an ideal one. Dualism thus divides the process of knowledge into two parts. The one part, viz., the production of the perceptual object by the thing-in-itself, he conceives of as taking place outside consciousness, whereas the other, the combination of percept with concept and the latter's reference to the thing-in-itself, takes place, according to him, in consciousness.

With such presuppositions, it is clear why the Dualist regards his concepts merely as subjective representations of what is really external to his consciousness. The objectively real process in the subject by means of which the percept is produced, and still more the objective relations between things-in-themselves, remain for the Dualist inaccessible to direct knowledge. According to him, man can get only conceptual representations of the objectively real. The bond of unity which connects things-in-themselves with one another, and also objectively with the individual minds (as things-in-themselves) of each of us, exists beyond our consciousness in a Divine Being of whom, once more, we have merely a conceptual representation.

7.5 Real Principles in addition to Ideal Principles
[12] The Dualist believes that the whole world would be dissolved into a mere abstract scheme of concepts, did he not posit the existence of real connections beside the conceptual ones. In other words, the ideal principles which thinking discovers are too airy for the Dualist, and he seeks, in addition, real principles with which to support them.

[13] Let us examine these real principles a little more closely. The naive man (Naive Realist) regards the objects of sense-experience as realities. The fact that his hands can grasp, and his eyes see, these objects is for him sufficient guarantee of their reality. "Nothing exists that cannot be perceived" is, in fact, the first axiom of the naive man; and it is held to be equally valid in its converse: "Everything which is perceived exists." The best proof for this assertion is the naive man's belief in immortality and in ghosts. He thinks of the soul as a fine kind of matter perceptible by the senses which, in special circumstances, may actually become visible to the ordinary man (belief in ghosts).

[14] In contrast with this, his real, world, the Naive Realist regards everything else, especially the world of ideas, as unreal, or "merely ideal." What we add to objects by thinking is merely thoughts about the objects. Thought adds nothing real to the percept.

[15] But it is not only with reference to the existence of things that the naive man regards perception as the sole guarantee of reality, but also with reference to the existence of processes. A thing, according to him, can act on another only when a force actually present to perception issues from the one and acts upon the other. The older physicists thought that very fine kinds of substances emanate from the objects and penetrate through the sense-organs into the soul. The actual perception of these substances is impossible only because of the coarseness of our sense-organs relatively to the fineness of these substances. In principle, the reason for attributing reality to these substances was the same as that for attributing it to the objects of the sensible world, viz., their kind of existence, which was conceived to be analogous to that of perceptual reality.

7.6 Real Evidence of Senses in addition to Ideal Evidence
[16] The self-contained being of ideas is not thought of by the naive mind as real in the same sense. An object conceived "merely in idea" is regarded as a chimera until sense-perception can furnish proof of its reality. In short, the naive man demands, in addition to the ideal evidence of his thinking, the real evidence of his senses. In this need of the naive man lies the ground for the origin of the belief in revelation. The God whom we apprehend by thought remains always merely our idea of God. The naive consciousness demands that God should manifest Himself in ways accessible to the senses. God must appear in the flesh, and must attest his Godhead to our senses by the changing of water into wine.

[17] Even knowledge itself is conceived by the naive mind as a process analogous to sense-perception. Things, it is thought, make an impression on the mind, or send out copies of themselves which enter through our senses, etc.

[18] What the naive man can perceive with his senses he regards as real, and what he cannot perceive (God, soul, knowledge, etc.) he regards as analogous to what he can perceive.

[19] On the basis of Naive Realism, science can consist only in an exact description of the content of perception. Concepts are only means to this end. They exist to provide ideal counterparts of percepts. With the things themselves they have nothing to do. For the Naive Realist only the individual tulips, which we can see, are real. The universal idea of tulip is to him an abstraction, the unreal thought-picture which the mind constructs for itself out of the characteristics common to all tulips.

7.7 Vanishing Perceptions and Ideal Entities
[20] Naive Realism, with its fundamental principle of the reality of all percepts, contradicts experience, which teaches us that the content of percepts is of a transitory nature. The tulip I see is real today; in a year it will have vanished into nothingness. What persists is the species "tulip." This species is, however, for the Naive Realist merely an idea, not a reality. Thus this theory of the world finds itself in the paradoxical position of seeing its realities arise and perish, while that which, by contrast with its realities, it regards as unreal endures. Hence Naive Realism is compelled to acknowledge the existence of something ideal by the side of percepts. It must include within itself entities which cannot be perceived by the senses. In admitting them, it escapes contradicting itself by conceiving their existence as analogous to that of objects of sense. Such hypothetical realities are the invisible forces by means of which the objects of sense-perception act on one another. Another such reality is heredity, the effects of which survive the individual, and which is the reason why from the individual a new being develops which is similar to it, and by means of which the species is maintained. The soul, the life-principle permeating the organic body, is another such reality which the naive mind is always found conceiving in analogy to realities of sense-perception. And, lastly, the Divine Being, as conceived by the naive mind, is such a hypothetical entity. The Deity is thought of as acting in a manner exactly corresponding to that which we can perceive in man himself, i.e., the Deity is conceived anthropomorphically.

[21] Modern Physics traces sensations back to the movements of the smallest particles of bodies and of an infinitely fine substance, called ether. What we experience, e.g., as warmth is a movement of the parts of a body which causes the warmth in the space occupied by that body. Here again something imperceptible is conceived on the analogy of what is perceptible. Thus, in terms of perception, the analogon to the concept "body" is, say, the interior of a room, shut in on all sides, in which elastic balls are moving in all directions, impinging one on another, bouncing on and off the walls, etc.

7.8 Perceptible Reality and Imperceptible Reality
[22] Without such assumptions the world of the Naive Realist would collapse into a disconnected chaos of percepts, without mutual relations, and having no unity within itself. It is clear, however, that Naive Realism can make these assumptions only by contradicting itself. If it would remain true to its fundamental principle, that only what is perceived is real, then it ought not to assume a reality where it perceives nothing. The imperceptible forces of which perceptible things are the bearers are, in fact, illegitimate hypotheses from the standpoint of Naive Realism. But because Naive Realism knows no other realities, it invests its hypothetical forces with perceptual content. It thus transfers a form of existence (the existence of percepts) to a sphere where the only means of making any assertion concerning such existence, viz., sense-perception, is lacking.

[23] This self-contradictory theory leads to Metaphysical Realism. The latter constructs, beside the perceptible reality, an imperceptible one which it conceives on the analogy of the former. Metaphysical Realism is, therefore, of necessity Dualistic.

[24] Wherever the Metaphysical Realist observes a relation between perceptible things (mutual approach through movement, the entrance of an object into consciousness, etc.), there he posits a reality. However, the relation of which he becomes aware cannot be perceived but only expressed by means of thought. The ideal relation is thereupon arbitrarily assimilated to something perceptible. Thus, according to this theory, the world is composed of the objects of perception which are in ceaseless flux, arising and disappearing, and of imperceptible forces by which the perceptible objects are produced, and which are permanent.

7.9 Sum of Perceptions and Laws of Nature
[25] Metaphysical Realism is a self-contradictory mixture of Naive Realism and Idealism. Its forces are imperceptible entities endowed with the qualities proper to percepts. The Metaphysical Realist has made up his mind to acknowledge in addition to the sphere for the existence of which he has an instrument of knowledge in sense-perception, the existence of another sphere for which this instrument fails, and which can be known only by means of thought. But he cannot make up his mind at the same time to acknowledge that the mode of existence which thought reveals, viz., the concept (or idea), has equal rights with percepts. If we are to avoid the contradiction of imperceptible percepts, we must admit that, for us, the relations which thought traces between percepts can have no other mode of existence than that of concepts. If one rejects the untenable part of Metaphysical Realism, there remains the concept of the world as the aggregate of percepts and their conceptual (ideal) relations. Metaphysical Realism, then, merges itself in a view of the world according to which the principle of perceptibility holds for percepts, and that of conceivability for the relations between the percepts. This view of the world has no room, in addition to the perceptual and conceptual worlds, for a third sphere in which both principles, the so-called "real" principle and the "ideal" principle, are simultaneously valid.

[26] When the Metaphysical Realist asserts that, beside the ideal relation between the perceived object and the perceiving subject, there must be a real relation between the percept as "thing-in-itself" and the subject as "thing-in-itself" (the so-called individual mind), he is basing his assertion on the false assumption of a real process, imperceptible but analogous to the processes in the world of percepts. Further, when the Metaphysical Realist asserts that we stand in a conscious ideal relation to our world of percepts, but that to the real world we can have only a dynamic (force) relation, he repeats the mistake we have already criticized. We can talk of a dynamic relation only within the world of percepts (in the sphere of the sense of touch), but not outside that world.

[27] Let us call the view which we have just characterized, and into which Metaphysical Realism merges when it discards its contradictory elements, Monism, because it combines one-sided Realism and Idealism into a higher unity.

[28] For Naive Realism, the real world is an aggregate of percepts; for Metaphysical Realism, reality belongs not only to percepts but also to imperceptible forces; Monism replaces forces by ideal relations which are supplied by thought. These relations are the laws of nature. A law of nature is nothing but the conceptual expression for the connection of certain percepts.

7.10 Separation and then Reunion of “I” into World Continuity
[29] Monism is never called upon to ask whether there are any principles of explanation for reality other than percepts and concepts. The Monist knows that in the whole realm of the real there is no occasion for this question. In the perceptual world, as immediately apprehended, he sees one-half of reality; in the union of this world with the world of concepts he finds full reality. The Metaphysical Realist might object that, relatively to our organization, our knowledge may be complete in itself, that no part may be lacking, but that we do not know how the world appears to a mind organized differently from our own. To this the Monist will reply, Maybe there are intelligences other than human; and maybe also that their percepts are different from ours, if they have perception at all. But this is irrelevant to me for the following reasons. Through my perceptions, i.e., through this specifically human mode of perception, I, as subject, am confronted with the object. The nexus of things is thereby broken. The subject reconstructs the nexus by means of thought. In doing so it re-inserts itself into the context of the world as a whole. As it is only through the Self, as subject, that the whole appears rent in two between percept and concept, the reunion of those two factors will give us complete knowledge. For beings with a different perceptual world (e.g., if they had twice our number of sense-organs) the nexus would appear broken in another place, and the reconstruction would accordingly have to take a form specifically adapted to such beings. The question concerning the limits of knowledge troubles only Naive and Metaphysical Realism, both of which see in the contents of mind only ideal representations of the real world. For, to these theories, whatever falls outside the subject is something absolute, a self-contained whole, and the subject's mental content is a copy which is wholly external to this absolute. The completeness of knowledge depends on the greater or lesser degree of resemblance between the representation and the absolute object. A being with fewer senses than man will perceive less of the world, one with more senses will perceive more. The former's knowledge will, therefore, be less complete than the latter's.

[30] For Monism, the situation is different. The point where the unity of the world appears to be rent asunder into subject and object depends on the organization of the percipient. The object is not absolute but merely relative to the nature of the subject. The bridging of the gap, therefore, can take place only in the quite specific way which is characteristic of the human subject. As soon as the Self, which in perception is set over against the world, is again re-inserted into the world-nexus by constructive thought, all further questioning ceases, having been but a result of the separation.

[31] A differently constituted being would have a differently constituted knowledge. Our own knowledge suffices to answer the questions which result from our own mental constitution.

[32] Metaphysical Realism must ask, What is it that gives us our percepts? What is it that stimulates the subject?

[33] Monism holds that percepts are determined by the subject. But in thought the subject has, at the same time, the instrument for transcending this determination of which it is itself the author.

7.11 Sum of Effects and Underlying Causes
[34] The Metaphysical Realist is faced by a further difficulty when he seeks to explain the similarity of the world-views of different human individuals. He has to ask himself, How is it that my theory of the world, built up out of subjectively determined percepts and out of concepts, turns out to be the same as that which another individual is also building up out of these same two subjective factors? How, in any case, is it possible for me to argue from my own subjective view of the world to that of another human being? The Metaphysical Realist thinks he can infer the similarity of the subjective world-views of different human beings from their ability to get on with one another in practical life. From this similarity of world-views he infers further the likeness to one another of individual minds, meaning by "individual mind" the "I-in-itself" underlying each subject.

[35] We have here an inference from a number of effects to the character of the underlying causes. We believe that after we have observed a sufficiently large number of instances, we know the connection sufficiently to know how the inferred causes will act in other instances. Such an inference is called an inductive inference. We shall be obliged to modify its results, if further observation yields some unexpected fact, because the character of our conclusion is, after all, determined only by the particular details of our actual observations. The Metaphysical Realist asserts that this knowledge of causes, though restricted by these conditions, is quite sufficient for practical life.

[36] Inductive inference is the fundamental method of modern Metaphysical Realism. At one time it was thought that out of concepts we could evolve something that would no longer be a concept. It was thought that the metaphysical reals, which Metaphysical Realism after all requires, could be known by means of concepts. This method of philosophizing is now out of date. Instead it is thought that from a sufficiently large number of perceptual facts we can infer the character of the thing-in-itself which lies behind these facts. Formerly it was from concepts, now it is from percepts, that the Realist seeks to evolve the metaphysically real. Because concepts are before the mind in transparent clearness, it was thought that we might deduce from them the metaphysically real with absolute certainty. Percepts are not given with the same transparent clearness. Each fresh one is a little different from others of the same kind which preceded it. In principle, therefore, anything inferred from past experience is somewhat modified by each subsequent experience. The character of the metaphysically real thus obtained can therefore be only relatively true, for it is open to correction by further instances. The character of Von Hartmann's Metaphysics depends on this methodological principle. The motto on the title-page of his first important book is, "Speculative results gained by the inductive method of Science."

7.12 Subjective and Objective World Continuity
[37] The form which the Metaphysical Realist at the present day gives to his things-in-themselves is obtained by inductive inferences. Consideration of the process of knowledge has convinced him of the existence of an objectively-real world-nexus, over and above the subjective world which we know by means of percepts and concepts. The nature of this reality he thinks he can determine by inductive inferences from his percepts.

Addition to the Revised Edition (1918)
The unprejudiced study of experience, in perceiving and conceiving, such as we have attempted to describe it in the preceding chapters, is liable to be interfered with again and again by certain ideas which spring from the soil of natural science. Thus, taking our stand on science, we say that the eye perceives in the spectrum colors from red to violet. But beyond violet there lie rays within the compass of the spectrum to which corresponds, not a color perceived by the eye, but a chemical effect. Similarly, beyond the rays which make us perceive red, there are rays which have only heat effects. These and similar phenomena lead, on reflection, to the view that the range of man's perceptual world is defined by the range of his senses, and that he would perceive a very different world if he had additional, or altogether different, senses. Those who like to indulge in far-roaming fancies in this direction, for which the brilliant discoveries of recent scientific research provide a highly tempting occasion, may well be led to confess that nothing enters the field of man's observation except what can affect his senses, as these have been determined by his whole organization. Man has no right to regard his percepts, limited as these are by his organization, as in any way a standard to which reality must conform. Every new sense would confront him with a different picture of reality.

Within its proper limits, this is a wholly justified view. But if anyone lets himself be confused by this view in the unprejudiced study of the relation of percept and concept, as set forth in these chapters, he blocks the path for himself to a knowledge of man and the world which is rooted in reality. The experience of the essential nature of thought, i.e., the active construction of the world of concepts, is something wholly different from the experience of a perceptible object through the senses. Whatever additional senses man might have, not one would give him reality, if his thinking did not organize with its concepts whatever he perceived by means of such a sense. Every sense, whatever its kind, provided only it is organized by thought, enables man to live right in the real. The fancy-picture of other perceptual worlds, made possible by other senses, has nothing to do with the problem of how it is that man stands in the midst of reality. We must clearly understand that every perceptual picture of the world owes its form to the physical organization of the percipient, but that only the percepts which have been organized by the living labor of thought lead us into reality. Fanciful speculations concerning the way the world would appear to other than human souls, can give us no occasion to want to understand man's relation to the world. Such a desire comes only with the recognition that every percept presents only a part of the reality it contains, and that, consequently, it leads us away from its own proper reality. This recognition is supplemented by the further one that thinking leads us into the part of reality which the percept conceals in itself.

Another difficulty in the way of the unprejudiced study of the relation we have here described, between percept and concept as elaborated by thought, may be met with occasionally, when in the field of physics the necessity arises of speaking, not of immediately perceptible elements, but of non-perceptible magnitudes, such as, e.g., lines of electric or magnetic force. It may seem as if the elements of reality of which physicists speak, had no connection either with what is perceptible, or with the concepts which active thinking has elaborated. Yet such a view would depend on self-deception. The main point is that all the results of physical research, except illegitimate hypotheses which ought to be excluded, have been gained through perceiving and conceiving. Entities which are seemingly non-perceptible, are referred by the physicists' sound instinct for knowledge to the field in which actual percepts lie, and they are dealt with in thought by means of the concepts which are commonly applied in this field. The magnitudes in a field of electric or magnetic force are reached, in their essence, by no other cognitive process than the one which connects percept and concept.—An increase or a modification of human senses would yield a different perceptual picture, an enrichment or a modification of human experience.

But genuine knowledge could be gained out of this new experience only through the mutual co-operation of concept and percept. The deepening of knowledge depends on the powers of intuition which express themselves in thinking (see page 90). Intuition may, in those experiences in which thinking expresses itself, dive either into deeper or shallower levels of reality. An expansion of the perceptual picture may supply stimuli for, and thus indirectly promote, this diving of intuition. But this diving into the depth, through which we attain reality, ought never to be confused with the contrast between a wider and a narrower perceptual picture, which always contains only half of reality, as that is conditioned by the structure of the knower's organism. Those who do not lose themselves in abstractions will understand how for a knowledge of human nature the fact is relevant, that physics must infer the existence, in the field of percepts, of elements to which no sense is adapted as it is to color or sound. Human nature, taken concretely, is determined not only by what, in virtue of his physical organization, man opposes to himself as immediate percept, but also by all else which he excludes from this immediate percept. Just as life needs unconscious sleep alongside of conscious waking experience, so man's experience of himself needs over and above the sphere of his sense-perception another sphere—and a much bigger one—of non-perceptible elements belonging to the same field from which the percepts of the senses come. Implicitly all this was already laid down in the original argument of this book. The author adds the present amplification of the argument, because he has found by experience that some readers have not read attentively enough.

It is to be remembered, too, that the idea of perception, developed in this book, is not to be confused with the idea of external sense-perception which is but a special case of the former. The reader will gather from what has preceded, but even more from what will be expounded later, that everything is here taken as "percept" which sensuously or spiritually enters into man's experience, so long as it has not yet been seized upon by the actively constructed concept. No "senses," as we ordinarily understand the term, are necessary in order to have percepts of a psychical or spiritual kind. It may be urged that this extension of ordinary usage is illegitimate. But the extension is absolutely indispensable, unless we are to be prevented by the current sense of a word from enlarging our knowledge of certain realms of facts. If we use "percept" only as meaning "sense-percept," we shall never advance beyond sense-percepts to a concept fit for the purposes of knowledge. It is sometimes necessary to enlarge a concept in order that it may get its appropriate meaning within a narrower field. Again, it is at times necessary to add to the original content of a concept, in order that the original thought may be justified or, perhaps, readjusted. Thus we find it said here in this book: "An idea is nothing but an individualized concept." It has been objected that this is a solecism. But this terminology is necessary if we are to find out what an idea really is. How can we expect any progress in knowledge, if every one who finds himself compelled to readjust concepts, is to be met by the objection: "This is a solecism"?



8.0 Cognitive Personality
[1] LET us recapitulate the results gained in the previous chapters. The world appears to man as a multiplicity, as an aggregate of separate entities. He himself is one of these entities, a thing among things. Of this structure of the world we say simply that it is given, and inasmuch as we do not construct it by conscious activity, but simply find it, we say that it consists of percepts. Within this world of percepts we perceive ourselves. This percept of Self would remain merely one among many other percepts, did it not give rise to something which proves capable of connecting all percepts one with another and, therefore, the aggregate of all other percepts with the percept of Self. This something which emerges is no longer a mere percept; neither is it, like percepts, simply given. It is produced by our activity. It appears, in the first instance, bound up with what each of us perceives as his Self. In its inner significance, however, it transcends the Self. It adds to the separate percepts ideal determinations, which, however, are related to one another, and which are grounded in a whole. What self-perception yields is ideally determined by this something in the same way as all other percepts, and placed as subject, or "I," over against the objects. This something is thought, and the ideal determinations are the concepts and ideas. Thought, therefore, first manifests itself in connection with the percept of self. But it is not merely subjective, for the Self characterizes itself as subject only with the help of thought. This relation of the Self to itself by means of thought is one of the fundamental determinations of our personal lives. Through it we lead a purely ideal existence. By means of it we are aware of ourselves as thinking beings. This determination of our lives would remain a purely conceptual (logical) one, if it were not supplemented by other determinations of our Selves. Our lives would then exhaust themselves in establishing ideal connections between percepts themselves, and between them and ourselves. If we call this establishment of an ideal relation an "act of cognition," and the resulting condition of ourselves "knowledge," then, assuming the above supposition to be true, we should have to consider ourselves as beings who merely apprehend or know.

8.1 Feeling Personality
[2] The supposition is, however, untrue. We relate percepts to ourselves not merely ideally, through concepts, but also, as we have already seen, through feeling. In short, the content of our lives is not merely conceptual. The Naive Realist holds that the personality actually lives more genuinely in the life of feeling than in the purely ideal activity of knowledge. From his point of view he is quite right in interpreting the matter in this way.

8.2 Perception of Feeling
Feeling plays on the subjective side exactly the part which percepts play on the objective side. From the principle of Naive Realism, that everything is real which can be perceived, it follows that feeling is the guarantee of the reality of one's own personality.

8.3 Incomplete Feeling
Monism, however, must bestow on feeling the same supplementation which it considers necessary for percepts, if these are to stand to us for reality in its full nature. For Monism, feeling is an incomplete reality, which, in the form in which it first appears to us, lacks as yet its second factor, the concept or idea. This is why, in actual life, feelings, like percepts, appear prior to knowledge.

8.4 Feeling Of Existence
At first, we have merely a feeling of existence; and it is only in the course of our gradual development, that we attain to the point at which the concept of Self emerges from within the blind mass of feelings which fills our existence. However, what for us does not appear until later, is from the first indissolubly bound up with our feelings.

8.5 Cultivation Of Feeling
This is how the naive man comes to believe that in feeling he grasps existence immediately, in knowledge only mediately. The development of the affective life, therefore, appears to him more important than anything else.

8.6 Feeling Knowledge
Not until he has grasped the unity of the world through feeling will he believe that he has comprehended it. He attempts to make feeling rather than thought the instrument of knowledge.

8.7 Philosopher Of Feeling
Now a feeling is entirely individual, something equivalent to a percept. Hence a philosophy of feeling makes a cosmic principle out of something which has significance only within my own personality. Anyone who holds this view attempts to infuse his own self into the whole world. What the Monist strives to grasp by means of concepts the philosopher of feeling tries to attain through feeling, and he looks on his own felt union with objects as more immediate than knowledge.

8.8 Feeling Mysticism
[3] The tendency just described, the philosophy of feeling, is Mysticism. The error in this view is that it seeks to possess by immediate experience what must be known, that it seeks to develop feeling, which is individual, into a universal principle.

[4] A feeling is a purely individual activity. It is the relation of the external world to the subject, in so far as this relation finds expression in a purely subjective experience.

8.9 Willing Personality
[5] There is yet another expression of human personality. The Self, through thought, takes part in the universal world-life. Through thought it establishes purely ideal (conceptual) relations between percepts and itself, and between itself and percepts. In feeling, it has immediate experience of the relation of objects to itself as subject. In will, the opposite is the case. In volition, we are concerned once more with a percept, viz., that of the individual relation of the self to what is objective. Whatever in the act of will is not an ideal factor, is just as much mere object of perception as is any object in the external world.

8.10 Philosophy Of Will
[6] Nevertheless, the Naive Realist believes here again that he has before him something far more real than can ever be attained by thought. He sees in the will an element in which he is immediately aware of an activity, a causation, in contrast with thought which afterwards grasps this activity in conceptual form. On this view, the realization by the Self of its will is a process which is experienced immediately. The adherent of this philosophy believes that in the will he has really got hold of one end of reality. Whereas he can follow other occurrences only from the outside by means of perception, he is confident that in his will he experiences a real process quite immediately. The mode of existence presented to him by the will within himself becomes for him the fundamental reality of the universe. His own will appears to him as a special case of the general world-process; hence the latter is conceived as a universal will. The will becomes the principle of reality just as, in Mysticism, feeling becomes the principle of knowledge. This kind of theory is called Voluntarism (Thelism). It makes something which can be experienced only individually the dominant factor of the world.

8.11 Real Experience Of Feeling and Willing
[7] Voluntarism can as little be called scientific as can Mysticism. For both assert that the conceptual interpretation of the world is inadequate. Both demand, in addition to a principle of being which is ideal, also a principle which is real. But as perception is our only means of apprehending these so-called real principles, the assertion of Mysticism and Voluntarism coincides with the view that we have two sources of knowledge, viz., thought and perception, the latter finding individual expression as will and feeling. Since the immediate experiences which flow from the one source cannot be directly absorbed into the thoughts which flow from the other, perception (immediate experience) and thought remain side by side, without any higher form of experience to mediate between them. Beside the conceptual principle to which we attain by means of knowledge, there is also a real principle which must be immediately experienced. In other words, Mysticism and Voluntarism are both forms of Naive Realism, because they subscribe to the doctrine that the immediately perceived (experienced) is real. Compared with Naive Realism in its primitive form, they are guilty of the yet further inconsistency of accepting one definite form of perception (feeling, respectively will) as the exclusive means of knowing reality. Yet they can do this only so long as they cling to the general principle that everything that is perceived is real. They ought, therefore, to attach an equal value to external perception for purposes of knowledge.

8.12 Universal Will
[8] Voluntarism turns into Metaphysical Realism, when it asserts the existence of will also in those spheres of reality in which will can no longer, as in the individual subject, be immediately experienced. It assumes hypothetically that a principle holds outside subjective experience, for the existence of which, nevertheless, subjective experience is the sole criterion. As a form of Metaphysical Realism, Voluntarism is open to the criticism developed in the preceding chapter, a criticism which makes it necessary to overcome the contradictory element in every form of Metaphysical Realism, and to recognize that the will is a universal world-process only in so far as it is ideally related to the rest of the world.

Addition to the Revised Edition (1918)
The difficulty of seizing the essential nature of thinking by observation lies in this, that it has generally eluded the introspecting mind all too easily by the time that the mind tries to bring it into the focus of attention. Nothing but the lifeless abstract, the corpse of living thought, then remains for inspection. When we consider only this abstract, we find it hard, by contrast, to resist yielding to the mysticism of feeling, or, again, to the metaphysics of will, both of which are "full of life." We are tempted to regard it as odd that anyone should want to seize the essence of reality in "mere thoughts." But if we once succeed in really holding fast the living essence of thinking, we learn to understand that the self-abandonment to feelings, or the intuiting of the will, cannot even be compared with the inward wealth of this life of thinking, which we experience as within itself ever at rest, yet at the same time ever in movement. Still less is it possible to rank will and feeling above thinking. It is owing precisely to this wealth, to this inward abundance of experience, that the image of thinking which presents itself to our ordinary attitude of mind, should appear lifeless and abstract. No other activity of the human mind is so easily misapprehended as thinking. Will and feeling still fill the mind with warmth even when we live through them again in memory. Thinking all too readily leaves us cold in recollection; it is as if the life of the mind had dried out. But this is really nothing but the strongly marked shadow thrown by its luminous, warm nature penetrating deeply into the phenomena of the world. This penetration is effected by the activity of thinking with a spontaneous outpouring of power—a power of spiritual love. There is no room here for the objection that thus to perceive love in the activity of thinking is to endow thinking with a feeling and a love which are not part of it. This objection is, in truth, a confirmation of the view here advocated. If we turn towards the essential nature of thinking, we find in it both feeling and will, and both these in their most profoundly real forms. If we turn away from thinking and towards "mere" feeling and will, these lose for us their genuine reality. If we are willing to make of thinking an intuitive experience, we can do justice, also, to experiences of the type of feeling and will. But the mysticism of feeling and the metaphysics of will do not know how to do justice to the penetration of reality which partakes at once of intuition and of thought. They conclude but too readily that they themselves are rooted in reality, but that the intuitive thinker, untouched by feeling, blind to reality, forms out of "abstract thoughts" a shadowy, chilly picture of the world.



9.0 Intuitive Thinking
[1] THE concept "tree" is conditioned for our knowledge by the percept "tree." There is only one determinate concept which I can select from the general system of concepts and apply to a given percept. The connection of concept and percept is mediately and objectively determined by thought in conformity with the percept. The connection between a percept and its concept is recognized after the act of perception, but the relevance of the one to the other is determined by the character of each.

[2] Very different is the result when we consider knowledge, and, more particularly, the relation of man to the world which occurs in knowledge. In the preceding chapters the attempt has been made to show that an unprejudiced examination of this relation is able to throw light on its nature. A correct understanding of this examination leads to the conclusion that thinking may be intuitively apprehended in its unique, self-contained nature. Those who find it necessary, for the explanation of thinking as such, to invoke something else, e.g., physical brain-processes, or unconscious spiritual processes lying behind the conscious thinking which they observe, fail to grasp the facts which an unprejudiced examination yields. When we observe our thinking, we live during the observation immediately within the essence of a spiritual, self-sustaining activity. Indeed, we may even affirm that if we want to grasp the essential nature of Spirit in the form in which it immediately presents itself to man, we need but look at our own self-sustaining thinking.

[3] For the study of thinking two things coincide which elsewhere must always appear apart, viz., concept and percept. If we fail to see this, we shall be unable to regard the concepts which we have elaborated in response to percepts as anything but shadowy copies of these percepts, and we shall take the percepts as presenting to us reality as it really is. We shall, further, build up for ourselves a metaphysical world after the pattern of the world of percepts. We shall, each according to his habitual ideas, call this world a world of atoms, or of will, or of unconscious spirit, and so on. And we shall fail to notice that all the time we have been doing nothing but erecting hypothetically a metaphysical world modeled on the world we perceive. But if we clearly apprehend what thinking consists in, we shall recognize that percepts present to us only a portion of reality, and that the complementary portion which alone imparts to reality its full character as real, is experienced by us in the organization of percepts by thought. We shall regard all thought, not as a shadowy copy of reality, but as a self-sustaining spiritual essence. We shall be able to say of it, that it is revealed to us in consciousness through intuition. Intuition is the purely spiritual conscious experience of a purely spiritual content. It is only through intuition that we can grasp the essence of thinking.

9.1 Psyche-Physical Organization
[4] To win through, by means of unprejudiced observation, to the recognition of this truth of the intuitive essence of thinking requires an effort. But without this effort we shall not succeed in clearing the way for a theory of the psycho-physical organization of man. We recognize that this organization can produce no effect whatever on the essential nature of thinking. At first sight this seems to be contradicted by patent and obvious facts. For ordinary experience, human thinking occurs only in connection with, and by means of, such an organization. This dependence on psycho-physical organization is so prominent that its true bearing can be appreciated by us only if we recognize, that in the essential nature of thinking this organization plays no part whatever. Once we appreciate this, we can no longer fail to notice how peculiar is the relation of human organization to thought. For this organization contributes nothing to j the essential nature of thought, but recedes whenever thought becomes active. It suspends its own activity, it yields ground. And the ground thus set free is occupied by thought. The essence which is active in thought has a two-fold function: first it restricts the human organization in its own activity; next, it steps into the place of that organization. Yes, even the former, the restriction of human organization, is an effect of the activity of thought, and more particularly of that part of it which prepares the manifestation of thinking. This explains the sense in which thinking has its counterpart in the organization of the body. Once we perceive this, we can no longer misapprehend the significance for thinking of this physical counterpart. When we walk over soft ground our feet leave deep tracks in the soil. We shall not be tempted to say that the forces of the ground, from below, have formed these tracks. We shall not attribute to these forces any share in the production of the tracks. Just so, if with open minds we observe the essential nature of thinking, we shall not attribute any share in that nature to the traces in the physical organism which thinking produces in preparing its manifestation through the body.

9.2 Ego-Consciousness
[5] An important question, however, confronts us here. If human organization has no part in the essential nature of thinking, what is its function within the whole nature of man? Well, the effects of thinking upon this organization have no bearing upon the essence of thinking, but they have a bearing upon the origin of the "I," or Ego-consciousness, through thinking. Thinking, in its unique character, constitutes the real Ego, but it does not constitute, as such, the Ego-consciousness. To see this we have but to study thinking with an open mind. The Ego is to be found in thinking. The Ego-consciousness arises through' the traces which, in the sense above explained, the activity of thinking impresses upon our general consciousness. The Ego-consciousness thus arises through the physical organization. This view must not, however, be taken to imply that the Ego-consciousness, once it has arisen, remains dependent on the physical organization. On the contrary, once it exists it is taken up into thought and shares henceforth thought's spiritual self-subsistence.

9.3 Characterological Disposition
[6] The Ego-consciousness is built upon human organization. The latter is the source of all acts of will. Following out the direction of the preceding exposition, we can gain insight into the connection of thought, conscious Ego, and act of will, only by studying first how an act of will issues from human organization.

[7] In a particular act of will we must distinguish two factors: the motive and the spring of action. The motive is a factor of the nature of concept or idea; the spring of action is the factor in will which is directly determined in the human organization. The conceptual factor, or motive, is the momentary determining cause of an act of will; the spring of action is the permanent determining factor in the individual. The motive of an act of will can be only a pure concept, or else a concept with a definite relation to perception, i.e., an idea. Universal and individual concepts (ideas) become motives of will by influencing the human individual and determining him to action in a particular direction. One and the same concept, however, or one and the same idea, influence different individuals differently. They determine different men to different actions. An act of will is, therefore, not merely the outcome of a concept or an idea, but also of the individual make-up of human beings. This individual make-up we will call, following Eduard von Hartmann, the "characterological disposition." The manner in which concept and idea act on the characterological disposition of a man gives to his life a definite moral or ethical stamp.

[8] The characterological disposition consists of the more or less permanent content of the individual's life, that is, of his habitual ideas and feelings. Whether an idea which enters my mind at this moment stimulates me to an act of will or not, depends on its relation to my other ideal contents, and also to my peculiar modes of feeling. My ideal content, in turn, is conditioned by the sum total of those concepts which have, in the course of my individual life, come in contact with percepts, that is, have become ideas. This, again, depends on my greater or lesser capacity for intuition, and on the range of my perception, that is, on the subjective and objective factors of my experiences, on the structure of my mind and on my environment. My affective life more especially determines my characterological disposition. Whether I shall make a certain idea or concept the motive for action will depend on whether it gives me pleasure or pain.

These are the factors which we have to consider in an act of will. The immediately present idea or concept, which becomes the motive, determines the end or the purpose of my will; my characterological disposition determines me to direct my activity towards this end. The idea of taking a walk in the next half-hour determines the end of my action. But this idea is raised to the level of a motive only if it meets with a suitable characterological disposition, that is, if during my past life I have formed the ideas of the wholesomeness of walking and the value of health; and, further, if the idea of walking is accompanied by a feeling of pleasure.

9.4 Levels Of Morality
[9] We must, therefore, distinguish (1) the possible subjective dispositions which are likely to turn given ideas and concepts into motives, and (2) the possible ideas and concepts which are capable of so influencing my characterological disposition that an act of will results. The former are for morality the springs of action, the latter it ends.

[10] The springs of action in the moral life can be discovered by analyzing the elements of which individual life is composed.

[11] The first level of individual life is that of perception, more particularly sense-perception. This is the stage of our individual lives in which a percept translates itself into will immediately, without the intervention of either a feeling or a concept. The spring of action here involved may be called simply instinct. Our lower, purely animal, needs (hunger, sexual intercourse, etc.) find their satisfaction in this way. The main characteristic of instinctive life is the immediacy with which the percept starts off the act of will. This kind of determination of the will, which belongs originally only to the life of the lower senses, may, however, become extended also to the percepts of the higher senses. We may react to the percept of a certain event in the external world without reflecting on what we do, and without any special feeling connecting itself with the percept. We have examples of this especially in our ordinary conventional intercourse with men. The spring of this kind of action is called tact or moral good taste. The more often such immediate reactions to a percept occur, the more the agent will prove himself able to act purely under the guidance of tact; that is, tact becomes his characterological disposition.

[12] The second level of human life is feeling. Definite feelings accompany the percepts of the external world. These feelings may become springs of action. When I see a hungry man, my pity for him may become the spring of my action. Such feelings, for example, are modesty, pride, sense of honor, humility, remorse, pity, revenge, gratitude, piety, loyalty, love, and duty.

[13] The third and last level of life is to have thoughts and ideas. An idea or a concept may become the motive of an action through mere reflection. Ideas become motives because, in the course of my life, I regularly connect certain aims of my will with percepts which recur again and again in a more or less modified form. Hence it is that, with men who are not wholly without experience, the occurrence of certain percepts is always accompanied also by the consciousness of ideas of actions, which they have themselves carried out in similar cases or which they have seen others carry out. These ideas float before their minds as determining models in all subsequent decisions; they become parts of their characterological disposition. We may give the name of practical experience to the spring of action just described. Practical experience merges gradually into purely tactful behavior. That happens, when definite typical pictures of actions have become so closely connected in our minds with ideas of certain situations in life, that, in any given instance, we omit all deliberation based on experience and pass immediately from the percept to the action.

[14] The highest level of individual life is that of conceptual thought without reference to any definite perceptual content. We determine the content of a concept through pure intuition on the basis of an ideal system. Such a concept contains, at first, no reference to any definite percepts. When an act of will comes about under the influence of a concept which refers to a percept, i.e., under the influence of an idea, then it is the percept which determines our action indirectly by way of the concept. But when we act under the influence of pure intuitions, the spring of our action is pure thought. As it is the custom in philosophy to call pure thought "reason," we may perhaps be justified in giving the name of practical reason to the spring of action characteristic of this level of life. The clearest account of this spring of action has been given by Kreyenbuhl (Philosophische Monatshefte, vol. xviii, No. 3). In my opinion his article on this subject is one of the most important contributions to present-day philosophy, more especially to Ethics. Kreyenbuhl calls the spring of action, of which we are treating, the practical a priori i.e., a spring of action issuing immediately from my intuition.

[15] It is clear that such a spring of action can no longer be counted in the strictest sense as part of the characterological disposition. For what is here effective in me as a spring of action is no longer something purely individual, but the ideal, and hence universal, content of my intuition. As soon as I regard this content as the valid basis and starting-point of an action, I pass over into willing, irrespective of whether the concept was already in my mind beforehand, or whether it only occurs to me immediately before the action, that is, irrespective of whether it was present in the form of a disposition in me or not.

[16] A real act of will results only when a present impulse to action, in the form of a concept or idea, acts on the characterological disposition. Such an impulse thereupon becomes the motive of the will.

[17] The motives of moral conduct are ideas and concepts. There are Moralists who see in feeling also a motive of morality; they assert, e.g., that the end of moral conduct is to secure the greatest possible quantity of pleasure for the agent. Pleasure itself, however, can never be a motive; at best only the idea of pleasure can act as motive. The idea of a future pleasure, but not the feeling itself, can act on my characterological disposition. For the feeling does not yet exist in the moment of action; on the contrary, it has first to be produced by the action.

[18] The idea of one's own or another's well-being is, however, rightly regarded as a motive of the will. The principle of producing the greatest quantity of pleasure for oneself through one's action, that is, to attain individual happiness, is called Egoism. The attainment of this individual happiness is sought either by thinking ruthlessly only of one's own good, and striving to attain it even at the cost of the happiness of other individuals (Pure Egoism), or by promoting the good of others, either because one anticipates indirectly a favorable influence on one's own happiness through the happiness of others, or because one fears to endanger one's own interest by injuring others (Morality of Prudence). The special content of the egoistical principle of morality will depend on the ideas which we form of what constitutes our own, or others', good. A man will determine the content of his egoistical striving in accordance with what he regards as one of life's good things (luxury, hope of happiness, deliverance from different evils, etc.).

[19] Further, the purely conceptual content of an action is to be regarded as yet another kind of motive. This content has no reference, like the idea of one's own pleasure, solely to the particular action, but to the deduction of an action from a system of moral principles. These moral principles, in the form of abstract concepts, may guide the individual's moral life without his worrying himself about the origin of his concepts. In that case, we feel merely the moral necessity of submitting to a moral concept which, in the form of law, controls our actions. The justification of this necessity we leave to those who demand from us moral subjection, that is, to those whose moral authority over us we acknowledge (the head of the family, the state, social custom, the authority of the church, divine revelation). We meet with a special kind of these moral principles when the law is not proclaimed to us by an external authority, but comes from our own selves (moral autonomy). In this case we believe that we hear the voice, to which we have to submit ourselves, in our own souls. The name for this voice is conscience.

[20] It is a great moral advance when a man no longer takes as the motive of his action the commands of an external or internal authority, but tries to understand the reason why a given maxim of action ought to be effective as a motive in him. This is the advance from morality based on authority to action from moral insight. At this level of morality, a man will try to discover the demands of the moral life, and will let his action be determined by this knowledge. Such demands are (1) the greatest possible happiness of humanity as a whole purely for its own sake, (2) the progress of civilization, or the moral development of mankind towards ever greater perfection, (3) the realization of individual moral ends conceived by an act of pure intuition.

[21] The greatest possible happiness of humanity as a whole will naturally be differently conceived by different people. The above-mentioned maxim does not imply any definite idea of this happiness, but rather means that every one who acknowledges this principle strives to do all that, in his opinion, most promotes the good of the whole of humanity.

[22] The progress of civilization is seen to be a special application of the moral principle just mentioned, at any rate for those to whom the goods which civilization produces bring feelings of pleasure. However, they will have to pay the price of progress in the destruction and annihilation of many things which also contribute to the happiness of humanity. It is, however, also possible that some men look upon the progress of civilization as a moral necessity, quite apart from the feelings of pleasure which it brings. If so, the progress of civilization will be a new moral principle for them, different from the previous one.

[23] Both the principle of the public good, and that of the progress of civilization, alike depend on the way in which we apply the content of our moral ideas to particular experiences (percepts). The highest principle of morality which we can conceive, however, is that which contains, to start with, no such reference to particular experiences, but which springs from the source of pure intuition and does not seek until later any connection with percepts, i.e., with life. The determination of what ought to be willed issues here from a point of view very different from that of the previous two principles. Whoever accepts the principle of the public good will in all his actions ask first what his ideals contribute to this public good. The upholder of the progress of civilization as the principle of morality will act similarly. There is, however, a still higher mode of conduct which, in a given case, does not start from any single limited moral ideal, but which sees a certain value in all moral principles, always asking whether this or that principle is more important in a particular case. It may happen that a man considers in certain circumstances the promotion of the public good, in others that of the progress of civilization, and in yet others the furthering of his own private good, to be the right course, and makes that the motive of his action. But when all other grounds of determination take second place, then we rely, in the first place, on conceptual intuition itself. All other motives now drop out of sight, and the ideal content of an action alone becomes its motive.

9.5 Moral Intuition
[24] Among the levels of characterological disposition, we have singled out as the highest that which manifests itself as pure thought, or practical reason. Among the motives, we have just singled out conceptual intuition as the highest. On nearer consideration, we now perceive that at this level of morality the spring of action and the motive coincide, i.e., that neither a predetermined characterological disposition, nor an external moral principle accepted on authority, influence our conduct. The action, therefore, is neither a merely stereotyped one which follows the rules of a moral code, nor is it automatically performed in response to an external impulse. Rather it is determined solely through its ideal content.

[25] For such an action to be possible, we must first be capable of moral intuitions. Whoever lacks the capacity to think out for himself the moral principles that apply in each particular case, will never rise to the level of genuine individual willing.

[26] Kant's principle of morality: Act so that the principle of your action may be valid for all men—is the exact opposite of ours. His principle would mean death to all individual action. The norm for me can never be what all men would do, but rather what it is right for me to do in each special case.

9.6 Moral Motive
[27] A superficial criticism might urge against these arguments: How can an action be individually adapted to the special case and the special situation, and yet at the same time be ideally determined by pure intuition? This objection rests on a confusion of the moral motive with the perceptual content of an action. The latter, indeed, may be a motive, and is actually a motive when we act for the progress of culture, or from pure egoism, etc., but in action based on pure moral intuition it never is a motive. Of course, my Self takes notice of these perceptual contents, but it does not allow itself to be determined by them. The content is used only to construct a theoretical concept, but the corresponding moral concept is not derived from the object. The theoretical concept of a given situation which faces me, is a moral concept also only if I adopt the standpoint of a particular moral principle. If I base all my conduct on the principle of the progress of civilization, then my way through life is tied down to a fixed route. From every occurrence which comes to my notice and attracts my interest there springs a moral duty, viz., to do my tiny share towards using this occurrence in the service of the progress of civilization. In addition to the concept which reveals to me the connections of events or objects according to the laws of nature, there is also a moral label attached to them which contains for me, as a moral agent, ethical directions as to how I have to conduct myself. At a higher level these moral labels disappear, and my action is determined in each particular instance by my idea; and more particularly by the idea which is suggested to me by the concrete instance.

9.7 Ethical Individualism
[28] Men vary greatly in their capacity for intuition. In some, ideas bubble up like a spring, others acquire them with much labor. The situations in which men live, and which are the scenes of their actions, are no less widely different. The conduct of a man will depend, therefore, on the manner in which his faculty of intuition reacts to a given situation. The aggregate of the ideas which are effective in us, the concrete content of our intuitions, constitute that which is individual in each of us, notwithstanding the universal character of our ideas. In so far as this intuitive content has reference to action, it constitutes the moral substance of the individual. To let this substance express itself in his life is the moral principle of the man who regards all other moral principles as subordinate. We may call this point of view Ethical Individualism.

[29] The determining factor of an action, in any concrete instance, is the discovery of the corresponding purely individual intuition. At this level of morality, there can be no question of general moral concepts (norms, laws). General norms always presuppose concrete facts from which they can be deduced. But facts have first to be created by human action.

9.8 Love For The Objective
[30] When we look for the regulating principles (the conceptual principles guiding the actions of individuals, peoples, epochs), we obtain a system of Ethics which is not a science of moral norms, but rather a science of morality as a natural fact. Only the laws discovered in this way are related to human action as the laws of nature are related to particular phenomena. These laws, however, are very far from being identical with the impulses on which we base our actions. If we want to understand how man's moral will gives rise to an action, we must first study the relation of this will to the action. For this purpose we must single out for study those actions in which this relation is the determining factor. When I, or another, subsequently review my action we may discover what moral principles come into play in it. But so long as I am acting, I am influenced, not by these moral principles, but by my love for the object which I want to realize through my action. I ask no man and no moral code, whether I shall perform this action or not. On the contrary, I carry it out as soon as I have formed the idea of it. This alone makes it my action.

If a man acts because he accepts certain moral norms, his action is the outcome of the principles which compose his moral code. He merely carries out orders. He is a superior kind of automaton. Inject some stimulus to action into his mind, and at once the clock-work of his moral principles will begin to work and run its prescribed course, so as to issue in an action which is Christian, or humane, or unselfish, or calculated to promote the progress of culture. It is only when I follow solely my love for the object, that it is I, myself, who act. At this level of morality, I acknowledge no lord over me, neither an external authority, nor the so called voice of my conscience. I acknowledge no external principle of my action, because I have found in myself the ground for my action, viz., my love of the action. I do not ask whether my action is good or bad; I perform it, because I am in love with it. My action is "good" when, with loving intuition, I insert myself in the right way into the world-nexus as I experience it intuitively; it is "bad" when this is not the case. Neither do I ask myself how another man would act in my position. On the contrary, I act as I, this unique individuality, will to act. No general usage, no common custom, no general maxim current among men, no moral norm guides me, but my love for the action. I feel no compulsion, neither the compulsion of nature which dominates me through my instincts, nor the compulsion of the moral commandments. My will is simply to realize what in me lies.

9.9 Expression Of Ideals In Individual Way
[31] Those who hold to general moral norms will reply to these arguments that, if every one has the right to live himself out and to do what he pleases, there can be no distinction between a good and a bad action; every fraudulent impulse in me has the same right to issue in action as the intention to serve the general good. It is not the mere fact of my having conceived the idea of an action which ought to determine me as a moral agent, but the further examination of whether it is a good or an evil action. Only if it is good ought I to carry it out.

[32] This objection is easily intelligible, and yet it had its root in what is but a misapprehension of my meaning. My reply to it is this: If we want to get at the essence of human volition, we must distinguish between the path along which volition attains to a certain degree of development, and the unique character which it assumes as it approaches its goal. It is on the path towards the goal that the norms play a legitimate part. The goal consists in the realization of moral aims which are apprehended by pure intuition. Man attains such aims in proportion as he is able to rise at all to the level at which intuition grasps the ideal content of the world. In any particular volition, other elements will, as a rule, be mixed up, as motives or springs of action, with such moral aims. But, for all that, intuition may be, wholly or in part, the determining factor in human volition. What we ought to do, that we do. We supply the stage upon which duty becomes deed. It is our own action which, as such, issues from us. The impulse, then, can only be wholly individual. And, in fact, only a volition which issues out of intuition can be individual. It is only in an age in which immature men regard the blind instincts as part of a man's individuality, that the act of a criminal can be described as living out one's individuality in the same sense, in which the embodiment in action of a pure intuition can be so described. The animal instinct which drives a man to a criminal act does not spring from intuition, and does not belong to what is individual in him, but rather to that which is most general in him, to that which is equally present in all individuals. The individual element in me is not my organism with its instincts and feelings, but rather the unified world of ideas which reveals itself through this organism. My instincts, cravings, passions, justify no further assertion about me than that I belong to the general species man. The fact that something ideal expresses itself in its own unique way through these instincts, passions, and feelings, constitutes my individuality. My instincts and cravings make me the sort of man of whom there are twelve to the dozen. The unique character of the idea, by means of which I distinguish myself within the dozen as "I," makes of me an individual. Only a being other than myself could distinguish me from others by the difference in my animal nature. By thought, i.e., by the active grasping of the ideal element working itself out through my organism, I distinguish myself from others. Hence it is impossible to say of the action of a criminal that it issues from the idea within him. Indeed, the characteristic feature of criminal actions is precisely that they spring from the non-ideal elements in man.

[33] An act the grounds for which lie in the ideal part of my individual nature is free. Every other act, whether done under the compulsion of nature or under the obligation imposed by a moral norm, is unfree.

[34] That man alone is free who in every moment of his life is able to obey only himself. A moral act is my act only when it can be called free in this sense. So far we are concerned here with the presuppositions under which an act of will is felt to be free; the sequel will show how this purely ethical concept of freedom is realized in the essential nature of man.

9.10 Harmony Of Intentions
[35] Action on the basis of freedom does not exclude, but include, the moral laws. It only shows that it stands on a higher level than actions which are dictated by these laws. Why should my act serve the general good less well when I do it from pure love of it, than when I perform it because it is a duty to serve the general good? The concept of duty excludes freedom, because it will not acknowledge the right of individuality, but demands the subjection of individuality to a general norm. Freedom of action is conceivable only from the standpoint of Ethical Individualism.

[36] But how about the possibility of social life for men, if each aims only at asserting his own individuality? This question expresses yet another objection on the part of Moralism wrongly understood. The Moralist believes that a social community is possible only if all men are held together by a common moral order. This shows that the Moralist does not understand the community of the world of ideas. He does not realize that the world of ideas which inspires me is no other than that which inspires my fellow-men. This identity is, indeed, but a conclusion from our experience of the world. However, it cannot be anything else. For if we could recognize it in any other way than by observation, it would follow that universal norms, not individual experience, were dominant in its sphere. Individuality is possible only if every individual knows others only through individual observation. I differ from my neighbor, not at all because we are living in two entirely different mental worlds, but because from our common world of ideas we receive different intuitions. He desires to live out his intuitions, I mine. If we both draw our intuitions really from the world of ideas, and do not obey mere external impulses (physical or moral), then we cannot but meet one another in striving for the same aims, in having the same intentions. A moral misunderstanding, a clash of aims, is impossible between men who are free. Only the morally unfree who blindly follow their natural instincts or the commands of duty, turn their backs on their neighbors, if these do not obey the same instincts and the same laws as themselves. To live in love of action and to let live in understanding of the other's volition, this is the fundamental maxim of the free man. He knows no other "ought" than that with which his will intuitively puts itself in harmony. How he shall will in any given case, that will be determined for him by the range of his ideas.

[37] If sociability were not deeply rooted in human nature, no external laws would be able to inoculate us with it. It is only because human individuals are akin in spirit that they can live out their lives side by side. The free man lives out his life in the full confidence that all other free men belong to one spiritual world with himself, and that their intentions will coincide with his. The free man does not demand agreement from his fellow-men, but he expects it none the less, believing that it is inherent in human nature. I am not referring here to the necessity for this or that external institution. I refer to the disposition, to the state of mind, through which a man, aware of himself as one of a group of fellow-men for whom he cares, comes nearest to living up to the ideal of human dignity.

9.11 Concept of the Free Human Being
[38] There are many who will say that the concept of the free man which I have here developed, is a chimera nowhere to be found realized, and that we have got to deal with actual human beings, from whom we can expect morality only if they obey some moral law, i.e., if they regard their moral task as a duty and do not simply follow their inclinations and loves. I do not deny this. Only a blind man could do that. But, if so, away with all this hypocrisy of morality! Let us say simply that human nature must be compelled to act as long as it is not free. Whether the compulsion of man's unfree nature is effected by physical force or through moral laws, whether man is unfree because he indulges his unmeasured sexual desire, or because he is bound tight in the bonds of conventional morality, is quite immaterial. Only let us not assert that such a man can rightly call his actions his own, seeing that he is driven to them by an external force. But in the midst of all this network of compulsion, there arise free spirits who, in all the welter of customs, legal codes, religious observances, etc., learn to be true to themselves. They are free in so far as they obey only themselves; unfree in so far as they submit to control. Which of us can say that he is really free in all his actions? Yet in each of us there dwells something deeper in which the free man finds expression.

[39] Our life is made up of free and unfree actions. We cannot, however, form a final and adequate concept of human nature without coming upon the free spirit as its purest expression. After all, we are men in the fullest sense only in so far as we are free.

[40] This is an ideal, many will say. Doubtless; but it is an ideal which is a real element in us working up to the surface of our nature. It is no ideal born of mere imagination or dream, but one which has life, and which manifests itself clearly even in the least developed form of its existence. If men were nothing but natural objects, the search for ideals, that is, for ideas which as yet are not actual but the realization of which we demand, would be an impossibility. In dealing with external objects the idea is determined by the percept. We have done our share when we have recognized the connection between idea and percept. But with a human being the case is different. The content of his existence is not determined without him. His concept of his true self as a moral being (free spirit) is not a priori united objectively with the perceptual content "man," so that knowledge need only register the fact subsequently. Man must by his own act unite his concept with the percept "man." Concept and percept coincide with one another in this instance, only in so far as the individual himself makes them coincide. This he can do only if he has found the concept of the free spirit, that is, if he has found the concept of his own Self. In the objective world, a boundary-line is drawn by our organization between percept and concept. Knowledge breaks down this barrier. In our subjective nature this barrier is no less present. The individual overcomes it in the course of his development, by embodying his concept of himself in his outward existence. Hence man's moral life and his intellectual life lead him both alike to his two-fold nature, perception (immediate experience) and thought. The intellectual life overcomes his two-fold nature by means of knowledge, the moral life succeeds through the actual realization of the free spirit. Every being has its inborn concept (the laws of its being and action), but in external objects this concept is indissolubly bound up with the percept, and separated from it only in the organization of human minds. In human beings concept and percept are, at first, actually separated, to be just as actually reunited by them. Someone might object that to our percept of a man there corresponds at every moment of his life a definite concept, just as with external objects. I can construct for myself the concept of an average man, and I may also have given to me a percept to fit this pattern. Suppose now I add to this the concept of a free spirit, then I have two concepts for the same object.

[41] Such an objection is one-sided. As object of perception I am subject to perpetual change. As a child I was one thing, another as a youth, yet another as a man. Moreover, at every moment I am different, as percept, from what I was the moment before. These changes may take place in such a way that either it is always only the same (average) man who exhibits himself in them, or that they represent the expression of a free spirit. Such are the changes which my actions, as objects of perception, undergo.

[42] In the perceptual object "man" there is given the possibility of transformation, just as in the plant-seed there lies the possibility of growth into a fully developed plant. The plant transforms itself in growth, because of  the objective law of nature which is inherent in it. The human being remains in his undeveloped state, unless he takes hold of the material for transformation within him and develops himself through his own energy. Nature makes of man merely a natural being; Society makes of him a being who acts in obedience to law; only he himself can make a free man of himself. At a definite stage in his development Nature releases man from her fetters; Society carries his development a step further; he alone can give himself the final polish.

[43] The theory of free morality, then, does not assert that the free spirit is the only form in which man can exist. It looks upon the freedom of the spirit only as the last stage in man's evolution. This is not to deny that conduct in obedience to norms has its legitimate place as a stage in development. The point is that we cannot acknowledge it to be the absolute standpoint in morality. For the free spirit transcends norms, in the sense that he is insensible to them as commands, but regulates his conduct in accordance with his impulses (intuitions).

[44] When Kant apostrophizes duty: "Duty! Thou sublime and mighty name, that dost embrace nothing charming or insinuating, but requirest submission," thou that "holdest forth a law. . . before which all inclinations are dumb, even though they secretly counterwork it," then the free spirit replies: "Freedom! thou kindly and humane name, which dost embrace within thyself all that is morally most charming, all that insinuates itself most into my humanity, and which makest me the servant of nobody, which holdest forth no law, but waitest what my inclination itself will proclaim as law, because it resists every law that is forced upon it."

[45] This is the contrast of morality according to law and according to freedom.

9.12 Moral World Order
[46] The philistine who looks upon the State as embodied morality is sure to look upon the free spirit as a danger to the State. But that is only because his view is narrowly focused on a limited period of time. If he were able to look beyond, he would soon find that it is but on rare occasions that the free spirit needs to go beyond the laws of his state, and that it never needs to confront them with any real contradiction. For the laws of the state, one and all, have had their origin in the intuitions of free spirits, just like all other objective laws of morality. There is no traditional law enforced by the authority of a family, which was not, once upon a time, intuitively conceived and laid down by an ancestor. Similarly the conventional laws of morality are first of all established by particular men, and the laws of the state are always born in the brain of a statesman. These free spirits have set up laws over the rest of mankind, and only he is unfree who forgets this origin and makes them either divine commands, or objective moral duties, or—falsely mystical—the authoritative voice of his own conscience. He, on the other hand, who does not forget the origin of laws, but looks for it in man, will respect them as belonging to the same world of ideas which is the source also of his own moral intuitions. If he thinks his intuitions better than the existing laws, he will try to put them into the place of the latter. If he thinks the laws justified, he will act in accordance with them as if they were his own intuitions.

[47] Man does not exist in order to found a moral order of the world. Anyone who maintains that he does, stands in his theory of man still at that same point, at which natural science stood when it believed that a bull has horns in order that it may butt. Scientists, happily, have cast the concept of objective purposes in nature into the limbo of dead theories. For Ethics, it is more difficult to achieve the same emancipation. But just as horns do not exist for the sake of butting, but butting because of horns, so man does not exist for the sake of morality, but morality exists through man. The free man acts morally because he has a moral idea, he does not act in order to be moral. Human individuals are the presupposition of a moral world order.

[48] The human individual is the fountain of all morality and the center of all life. State and society exist only because they have necessarily grown out of the life of individuals. That state and society, in turn, should react upon the lives of individuals, is no more difficult to comprehend, than that the butting which is the result of the existence of horns, reacts in turn upon the further development of the horns, which would become atrophied by prolonged disuse. Similarly, the individual must degenerate if he leads an isolated existence beyond the pale of human society. That is just the reason why the social order arises, viz., that it may react favorably upon the individual.

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Creator Collaboration

I recently posted some videos on YouTube on current social and political topics. It was suggested I get more people involved in this for feedback, topic ideas, and participation such as a co-host and guests. With more participation the YouTube videos could generate more interest. This post is for discussion about this. If needed I can set up a creator group within the website for this purpose.

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22 hoernle part 2



4.0 Reactive Thinking
[1] THE products of thinking are concepts and ideas. What a concept is cannot be expressed in words. Words can do no more than draw our attention to the fact that we have concepts. When someone perceives a tree, the perception acts as a stimulus for thought. Thus an ideal element is added to the perceived object, and the perceiver regards the object and its ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from the field of his perception, the ideal counterpart alone remains. This latter is the concept of the object. The wider the range of our experience, the larger becomes the number of our concepts. Moreover, concepts are not by any means found in isolation one from the other. They combine to form an ordered and systematic whole. The concept "organism," e.g., combines with those of "development according to law," "growth," and others. Other concepts based on particular objects fuse completely with one another. All concepts formed from particular lions fuse in the universal concept "lion." In this way, all the separate concepts combine to form a closed, conceptual system within which each has its special place. Ideas do not differ qualitatively from concepts. They are but fuller, more saturated, more comprehensive concepts. I attach special importance to the necessity of bearing in mind, here, that I make thought my starting-point, and not concepts and ideas which are first gained by means of thought. These latter presuppose thought. My remarks regarding the self-dependent, self-sufficient character of thought cannot, therefore, be simply transferred to concepts. (I make special mention of this, because it is here that I differ from Hegel, who regards the concept as something primary and ultimate.)

[2] Concepts cannot be derived from perception. This is apparent from the fact that, as man grows up, he slowly and gradually builds up the concepts corresponding to the objects which surround him. Concepts are added to perception.

4.1 Conceptual Search
[3] A philosopher, widely read at the present day (Herbert Spencer), describes the mental process which we perform upon perception as follows:

[4] "If, when walking through the fields some day in September, you hear a rustle a few yards in advance, and on observing the ditch-side where it occurs, see the herbage agitated, you will probably turn towards the spot to learn by what this sound and motion are produced. As you approach there flutters into the ditch a partridge; on seeing which your curiosity is satisfied—you have what you call an explanation of the appearances. The explanation, mark, amounts to this—that whereas throughout life you have had countless experiences of disturbance among small stationary bodies, accompanying the movement of other bodies among them, and have generalized the relation between such disturbances and such movements, you consider this particular disturbance explained on finding it to present an instance of the like relation" (First Principles, Part I, par. 23).

A closer analysis leads to a very different description from that here given. When I hear a noise, my first demand is for the concept which fits this percept. Without this concept, the noise is to me a mere noise. Whoever does not reflect further, hears just the noise and is satisfied with that. But my thought makes it clear to me that the noise is to be regarded as an effect. Thus it is only when I combine the concept of effect with the percept of a noise that I am led to go beyond the particular percept and seek for its cause. The concept of "effect" calls up that of "cause," and my next step is to look for the agent, which I find, say, in a partridge. But these concepts, cause and effect, can never be gained through mere perception, however many instances we bring under review. Perception evokes thought, and it is this which shows me how to link separate experiences together.

[5] If one demands of a "strictly objective science" that it should take its data from perception alone, one must demand also that it abandon all thought. For thought, by its very nature, transcends the objects of perception.

4.2 Conceptual Reference
[6] It is time now to pass from thought to the thinker. For it is through the thinker that thought and perception are combined. The human mind is the stage on which concept and percept meet and are linked to one another. In saying this, we already characterize this (human) consciousness. It mediates between thought and perception. In perception the object appears as given, in thought the mind seems to itself to be active. It regards the thing as object and itself as the thinking subject. When thought is directed upon the perceptual world we have consciousness of objects; when it is directed upon itself we have self-consciousness. Human consciousness must, of necessity, be at the same time self-consciousness, because it is a consciousness which thinks. For, when thought contemplates its own activity it makes an object for study of its own essential nature, it makes an object of itself as subject.

[7] It is important to note here that it is only by means of thinking that I am able to determine myself as subject and contrast myself with objects. Therefore thinking must never be regarded as a merely subjective activity. Thinking transcends the distinction of subject and object. It produces these two concepts just as it produces all others. When, therefore, I, as thinking subject, refer a concept to an object, we must not regard this reference as something purely subjective. It is not the subject, but thought, which makes the reference. The subject does not think because it is a subject, rather it conceives itself to be a subject because it can think. The activity of consciousness, in so far as it thinks, is thus not merely subjective. Rather it is neither subjective nor objective; it transcends both these concepts. I ought never to say that I, as an individual subject, think, but rather that I, as subject, exist myself by the grace of thought. Thought thus takes me out of myself and relates me to objects. At the same time it separates me from them, inasmuch as I, as subject, am set over against the objects.

[8] It is just this which constitutes the double nature of man. His thought embraces himself and the rest of the world. But by this same act of thought he determines himself also as an individual, in contrast with the objective world.

4.3 Conceptual Relationship
[9] We must next ask ourselves how the other element, which we have so far simply called the perceptual object and which comes, in consciousness, into contact with thought, enters into thought at all?

[10] In order to answer this question, we must eliminate from the field of consciousness everything which has been imported by thought. For, at any moment, the content of consciousness is always shot through with concepts in the most various ways.

[11] Let us assume that a being with fully developed human intelligence originated out of nothing and confronted the world. All that it there perceived before its thought began to act would be the pure content of perception. The world so far would appear to this being as a mere chaotic aggregate of sense-data, colors, sounds, sensations of pressure, of warmth, of taste, of smell, and, lastly, feelings of pleasure and pain. This mass constitutes the world of pure unthinking perception. Over against it stands thought, ready to begin its activity as soon as it can find a point of attack. Experience shows that the opportunity is not long in coming. Thought is able to draw threads from one sense-datum to another. It brings definite concepts to bear on these data and thus establishes a relation between them. We have seen above how a noise which we hear is connected with another content by our identifying the first as the effect of the second.

[12] If now we recollect that the activity of thought is on no account to be considered as merely subjective, then we shall not be tempted to believe that the relations thus established by thought have merely subjective validity.

4.4 Correction Of My Picture Of World
[13] Our next task is to discover by means of thought what relation the above mentioned immediate sense-data have to the conscious subject.

[14] The ambiguity of current speech makes it advisable for me to come to an agreement with my readers concerning the meaning of a word which I shall have to employ in what follows. I shall apply the name "percepts" to the immediate sense-data enumerated above, in so far as the subject consciously apprehends them. It is, then, not the process of perception, but the object of this process which I call the "percept."

[15] I reject the term "sensation," because this has a definite meaning in Physiology which is narrower than that of my term "percept." I can speak of feeling as a percept, but not as a sensation in the physiological sense of the term. Before I can have cognizance of my feeling it must become a percept for me. The manner in which, through observation, we gain knowledge of our thought-processes is such that when we first begin to notice thought, it too may be called a percept.

[16] The unreflective man regards his percepts, such as they appear to his immediate apprehension, as things having a wholly independent existence. When he sees a tree he believes that it stands in the form which he sees, with the colors of all its parts, etc., there on the spot towards which his gaze is directed. When the same man sees the sun in the morning appear as a disc on the horizon, and follows the course of this disc, he believes that the phenomenon exists and occurs (by itself) exactly as he perceives it. To this belief he clings until he meets with further percepts which contradict his former ones. The child who has as yet had no experience of distance grasps at the moon, and does not correct its first impression as to the real distance until a second percept contradicts the first. Every extension of the circle of my percepts compels me to correct my picture of the world. We see this in everyday life, as well as in the mental development of mankind. The picture which the ancients made for themselves of the relation of the earth to the sun and other heavenly bodies, had to be replaced by another when Copernicus found that it contradicted percepts which in those early days were unknown. A man who had been born blind said, when operated on by Dr. Franz, that the idea of the size of objects which he had formed before his operation by his sense of touch was a very different one. He had to correct his tactual percepts by his visual percepts.

4.5 Mathematical And Qualitative Percept-Picture
[17] How is it that we are compelled to make these continual corrections in our observations?

[18] A single reflection supplies the answer to this question. When I stand at one end of an avenue, the trees at the other end, away from me, seem smaller and nearer together than those where I stand. But the scene which I perceive changes when I change the place from which I am looking. The exact form in which it presents itself to me is, therefore, dependent on a condition which inheres, not in the object, but in me, the percipient. It is all the same to the avenue where I stand. But the picture of it which I receive depends essentially on my standpoint. In the same way, it makes no difference to the sun and the planetary system that human beings happen to perceive them from the earth; but the picture of the heavens which human beings have is determined by the fact that they inhabit the earth. This dependence of our percepts on our points of observation is the easiest kind of dependence to understand. The matter becomes more difficult when we realize further that our perceptual world is dependent on our bodily and mental organization. The physicist teaches us that within the space in which we hear a sound there are vibrations of the air, and that there are vibrations also in the particles of the body which we regard as the cause of the sound. These vibrations are perceived as sounds only if we have normally constructed ears. Without them the whole world would be for us for ever silent. Again, the physiologist teaches us that there are men who perceive nothing of the wonderful display of colors which surrounds us. In their world there are only degrees of light and dark. Others are blind only to one color, e.g., red. Their world lacks this color tone, and hence it is actually a different one from that of the average man. I should like to call the dependence of my perceptual world on my point of observation "mathematical," and its dependence on my organization "qualitative." The former determines proportions of size and mutual distances of my percepts, the latter their quality. The fact that I see a red surface as red—this qualitative determination—depends on the structure of my eye.

4.6 Subjective Percept-Picture
[19] My percepts, then, are in the first instance subjective. The recognition of the subjective character of our percepts may easily lead us to doubt whether there is any objective basis for them at all. When we know that a percept, e.g., that of a red color or of a certain tone, is not possible without a specific structure of our organism, we may easily be led to believe that it has no being at all apart from our subjective organization, that it has no kind of existence apart from the act of perceiving of which it is the object. The classical representative of this theory is George Berkeley, who held that from the moment we realize the importance of a subject for perception, we are no longer able to believe in the existence of a world apart from a conscious mind.

"Some truths there are so near and obvious to the mind that man need only open his eyes to see them. Such I take this important one to be, viz., that all the choir of heaven and the furniture of the earth—in a word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world—have not any subsistence without a mind; that their being is to be perceived or known; that consequently, so long as they are not actually perceived by me, or do not exist in my mind or that of any other created spirit, they must either have no existence at all or else subsist in the mind of some Eternal Spirit" (Berkeley, Of the Principles of Human Knowledge, Part I, Section 6).

On this view, when we take away the act of perceiving, nothing remains of the percept. There is no color when none is seen, no sound when none is heard. Extension, form, and motion exist as little as color and sound apart from the act of perception. We never perceive bare extension or shape. These are always joined with color or some other quality, which are undoubtedly dependent on the subject. If these latter disappear when we cease to perceive, the former, being connected with them, must disappear likewise.

[20] If it is urged that, even though figure, color, sound, etc., have no existence except in the act of perception, yet there must be things which exist apart from perception and which are similar to the percepts in our minds, then the view we have mentioned would answer, that a color can be similar only to a color, a figure to a figure. Our percepts can be similar only to our percepts and to nothing else. Even what we call a thing is nothing but a collection of percepts which are connected in a definite way. If I strip a table of its shape, extension, color, etc.—in short, of all that is merely my percepts—then nothing remains over. If we follow this view to its logical conclusion, we are led to the assertion that the objects of my perceptions exist only through me, and only in as far as, and as long as, I perceive them. They disappear with my perceiving and have no meaning apart from it. Apart from my percepts I know of no objects and cannot know of any.

[21] No objection can be made to this assertion as long as we take into account merely the general fact that the percept is determined in part by the organization of the subject. The matter would be far otherwise if we were in a position to say what part exactly is played by our perceiving in the occurrence of a percept. We should know then what happens to a percept whilst it is being perceived, and we should also be able to determine what character it must possess before it comes to be perceived.

4.7 Idea: After-effect Of Observation
[22] This leads us to turn our attention from the object of a perception to the subject of it. I am aware not only of other things but also of myself. The content of my perception of myself consists, in the first instance, in that I am something stable in contrast with the ever coming and going flux of percepts. The awareness of myself accompanies in my consciousness the awareness of all other percepts. When I am absorbed in the perception of a given object I am, for the time being, aware only of this object. Next I become aware also of myself. I am then conscious, not only of the object, but also of my Self as opposed to and observing the object. I do not merely see a tree, I know also that it is I who see it. I know, moreover, that some process takes place in me when I observe a tree. When the tree disappears from my field of vision, an after-effect of this process remains, viz., an image of the tree. This image has become associated with my Self during my perception. My Self has become enriched; to its content a new element has been added. This element I call my idea of the tree. I should never have occasion to talk of ideas, were I not aware of my own Self. Percepts would come and go; I should let them slip by. It is only because I am aware of my Self, and observe that with each perception the content of the Self is changed, that I am compelled to connect the perception of the object with the changes in the content of my Self, and to speak of having an idea.

4.8 Idea: Caused By Unknown Thing-In-Itself
[23] That I have ideas is in the same sense matter of observation to me as that other objects have color, sound, etc. I am now also able to distinguish these other objects, which stand over against me, by the name of the outer world, whereas the contents of my perception of my Self form my inner world. The failure to recognize the true relation between idea and object has led to the greatest misunderstandings in modern philosophy. The fact that I perceive a change in myself, that my Self undergoes a modification, has been thrust into the foreground, whilst the object which causes these modifications is altogether ignored. In consequence it has been said that we perceive, not objects, but only our ideas. I know, so it is said, nothing of the table in itself, which is the object of my perception, but only of the changes which occur within me when I perceive a table. This theory should not be confused with the Berkeleyan theory mentioned above. Berkeley maintains the subjective nature of my perceptual contents, but he does not say that I can know only my own ideas. He limits my knowledge to my ideas because, on his view, there are no objects other than ideas. What I perceive as a table no longer exists, according to Berkeley, when I cease to look at it. This is why Berkeley holds that our percepts are created directly by the omnipotence of God. I see a table because God causes this percept in me. For Berkeley, therefore, nothing is real except God and human spirits. What we call the "world" exists only in spirits. What the naive man calls the outer world, or material nature, is for Berkeley non-existent. This theory is confronted by the now predominant Kantian view which limits our knowledge of the world to our ideas, not because of any conviction that nothing beyond these ideas exists, but because it holds that we are so organized that we can have knowledge only of the changes within our own selves, not of the things-in-themselves which are the causes of these changes. This view concludes from the fact that I know only my own ideas, not that there is no reality independent of them, but only that the subject cannot have direct knowledge of such reality. The mind can merely "through the medium of its subjective thoughts imagine it, conceive it, know it, or perhaps also fail to know it" (O. Liebmann, Zur Analysis der Wirklichkeit, p. 28). Kantians believe that their principles are absolutely certain, indeed immediately evident, without any proof.

"The most fundamental principle which the philosopher must begin by grasping clearly, consists in the recognition that our knowledge, in the first instance, does not extend beyond our ideas. Our ideas are all that we immediately have and experience, and just because we have immediate experience of them the most radical doubt cannot rob us of this knowledge. On the other hand, the knowledge which transcends my ideas—taking ideas here in the widest possible sense, so as to include all psychical processes—is not proof against doubt. Hence, at the very beginning of all philosophy we must explicitly set down all knowledge which transcends ideas as open to doubt."

4.9 Idea: What My Organization Transmits

These are the opening sentences of Volkelt's book on Kant's Theory of Knowledge. What is here put forward as an immediate and self-evident truth is, in reality, the conclusion of a piece of argument which runs as follows. Naive common sense believes that things, just as we perceive them, exist also outside our minds. Physics, Physiology, and Psychology, however, teach us that our percepts are dependent on our organization, and that therefore we cannot know anything about external objects except what our organization transmits to us. The objects which we perceive are thus modifications of our organization, not things-in-themselves. This line of thought has, in fact, been characterized by Ed. von Hartmann as the one which leads necessarily to the conviction that we can have direct knowledge only of our own ideas (cp. his Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie, pp. 16-40).

Because outside our organisms we find vibrations of particles and of air, which are perceived by us as sounds, it is concluded that what we call sound is nothing more than a subjective reaction of our organisms to these motions in the external world. Similarly, color and heat are inferred to be merely modifications of our organisms. And, further, these two kinds of percepts are held to be the effects of processes in the external world which are utterly different from what we experience as heat or as color. When these processes stimulate the nerves in the skin of my body, I perceive heat; when they stimulate the optical nerve I perceive light and color. Light, color, and heat, then, are the reactions of my sensory nerves to external stimuli. Similarly, the sense of touch reveals to me, not the objects of the outer world, but only states of my own body. The physicist holds that bodies are composed of infinitely small particles called molecules, and that these molecules are not in direct contact with one another, but have definite intervals between them. Between them, therefore, is empty space. Across this space they act on one another by attraction and repulsion. If I put my hand on a body, the molecules of my hand by no means touch those of the body directly, but there remains a certain distance between body and hand, and what I experience as the body's resistance is nothing but the effect of the force of repulsion which its molecules exert on my hand. I am absolutely external to the body and experience only its effects on my organism.

[24] The theory of the so-called Specific Nervous Energy, which has been advanced by J. Muller, supplements these speculations. It asserts that each sense has the peculiarity that it reacts to all external stimuli in only one definite way. If the optic nerve is stimulated, light sensations result, irrespective of whether the stimulation is due to what we call light, or to mechanical pressure, or an electrical current. On the other hand, the same external stimulus applied to different senses gives rise to different sensations. The conclusion from these facts seems to be, that our sense-organs can give us knowledge only of what occurs in themselves, but not of the external world. They determine our percepts, each according to its own nature.

[25] Physiology shows, further, that there can be no direct knowledge even of the effects which objects produce on our sense-organs. Through his study of the processes which occur in our own bodies, the physiologist finds that, even in the sense-organs, the effects of the external process are modified in the most diverse ways. We can see this most clearly in the case of eye and ear. Both are very complicated organs which modify the external stimulus considerably, before they conduct it to the corresponding nerve. From the peripheral end of the nerve the modified stimulus is then conducted to the brain. Here the central organs must in turn be stimulated. The conclusion is, therefore, drawn that the external process undergoes a series of transformations before it reaches consciousness. The brain processes are connected by so many intermediate links with the external stimuli, that any similarity between them is out of the question. What the brain ultimately transmits to the soul is neither external processes, nor processes in the sense-organs, but only such as occur in the brain. But even these are not apprehended immediately by the soul. What we finally have in consciousness are not brain processes at all, but sensations. My sensation of red has absolutely no similarity with the process which occurs in the brain when I sense red. The sensation, again, occurs as an effect in the mind, and the brain process is only its cause. This is why Hartmann (Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie, p. 37) says, "What the subject experiences is therefore only modifications of his own psychical states and nothing else."

However, when I have sensations, they are very far as yet from being grouped in those complexes which I perceive as "things." Only single sensations can be transmitted to me by the brain. The sensations of hardness and softness are transmitted to me by the organ of touch, those of color and light by the organ of sight. Yet all these are found united in one object. This unification must, therefore, be brought about by the soul itself; that is, the soul constructs things out of the separate sensations which the brain conveys to it. My brain conveys to me singly, and by widely different paths, the visual, tactual, and auditory sensations which the soul then combines into the idea of a trumpet. Thus, what is really the result of a process (i.e., the idea of a trumpet), is for my consciousness the primary datum. In this result nothing can any longer be found of what exists outside of me and originally stimulated my sense - organs. The external object is lost entirely on the way to the brain and through the brain to the soul.

4.10 Perceived World Is A Projection Of Soul Qualities
[26] It would be hard to find in the history of human speculation another edifice of thought which has been built up with greater ingenuity, and which yet, on closer analysis, collapses into nothing. Let us look a little closer at the way it has been constructed. The theory starts with what is given in naive consciousness, i.e., with things as perceived. It proceeds to show that none of the qualities which we find in these things would exist for us, had we no sense-organs. No eye—no color. Therefore, the color is not, as yet, present in the stimulus which affects the eye. It arises first through the interaction of the eye and the object. The latter is, therefore, colorless. But neither is the color in the eye, for in the eye there is only a chemical, or physical, process which is first conducted by the optic nerve to the brain, and there initiates another process. Even this is not yet the color. That is only produced in the soul by means of the brain process. Even then it does not yet appear in consciousness, but is first referred by the soul to a body in the external world. There I finally perceive it, as a quality of this body. We have traveled in a complete circle. We are conscious of a colored object. That is the starting-point. Here thought begins its construction. If I had no eye, the object would be, for me, colorless. I cannot, therefore, attribute the color to the object. I must look for it elsewhere. I look for it, first, in the eye—in vain; in the nerve—in vain; in the brain—in vain once more; in the soul—here I find it indeed, but not attached to the object. I recover the colored body only on returning to my starting-point. The circle is completed. The theory leads me to identify what the naive man regards as existing outside of him, as really a product of my mind.

4.11 External Perception Is Idea
[27] As long as one stops here everything seems to fit beautifully. But we must go over the argument once more from the beginning. Hitherto I have used, as my starting-point, the object, i.e., the external percept of which up to now, from my naive standpoint, I had a totally wrong conception. I thought that the percept, just as I perceive it, had objective existence. But now I observe that it disappears with my act of perception, that it is only a modification of my mental state. Have I, then, any right at all to start from it in my arguments? Can I say of it that it acts on my soul? I must henceforth treat the table of which formerly I believed that it acted on me, and produced an idea of itself in me, as itself an idea. But from this it follows logically that my sense-organs, and the processes in them are also merely subjective. I have no right to talk of a real eye but only of my idea of an eye. Exactly the same is true of the nerve paths, and the brain processes, and even of the process in the soul itself, through which things are supposed to be constructed out of the chaos of diverse sensations. If assuming the truth of the first circle of argumentation, I run through the steps of my cognitive activity once more, the latter reveals itself as a tissue of ideas which, as such, cannot act on one another. I cannot say that my idea of the object acts on my idea of the eye, and that from this interaction results my idea of color. But it is necessary that I should say this. For as soon as I see clearly that my sense-organs and  their activity, my nerve- and soul-processes, can also be known to me only through perception, the argument which I have outlined reveals itself in its full absurdity. It is quite true that I can have no percept without the corresponding sense-organ. But just as little can I be aware of a sense-organ without perception. From the percept of a table I can pass to the eye which sees it, or the nerves in the skin which touches it, but what takes place in these I can, in turn, learn only from perception. And then I soon perceive that there is no trace of similarity between the process which takes place in the eye and the color which I see. I cannot get rid of color sensations by pointing to the process which takes place in the eye whilst I perceive a color. No more can I re-discover the color in the nerve- or brain-processes. I only add a new percept, localized within the organism, to the first percept which the naive man localizes outside of his organism. I only pass from one percept to another.

[28] Moreover, there is a break in the whole argument. I can follow the processes in my organism up to those in my brain, even though my assumptions become more and more hypothetical as I approach the central processes of the brain. The method of external observation ceases with the process in my brain, more particularly with the process which I should observe, if I could treat the brain with the instruments and methods of Physics and Chemistry. The method of internal observation, or introspection, begins with the sensations, and includes the construction of things out of the material of sense-data. At the point of transition from brain process to sensation, there is a break in the sequence of observation.

[29] The theory which I have here described, and which calls itself Critical Idealism, in contrast to the standpoint of naive common sense which it calls Naive Realism, makes the mistake of characterizing one group of percepts as ideas, whilst taking another group in the very same sense as the Naive Realism which it apparently refutes. It establishes the ideal character of percepts by accepting naively, as objectively valid facts, the percepts connected with one's own body; and, in addition, it fails to see that it confuses two spheres of observation, between which it can find no connecting link.

4.12 Objective Existence Of Own Organism
[30] Critical Idealism can refute Naive Realism only by itself assuming, in naive-realistic fashion, that one's own organism has objective existence. As soon as the Idealist realizes that the percepts connected with his own organism stand on exactly the same footing as those which Naive Realism assumes to have objective existence, he can no longer use the former as a safe foundation for his theory. He would, to be consistent, have to regard his own organism also as a mere complex of ideas. But this removes the possibility of regarding the content of the perceptual world as a product of the mind's organization. One would have to assume that the idea "color" was only a modification of the idea "eye." So-called Critical Idealism can be established only by borrowing the assumptions of Naive Realism. The apparent refutation of the latter is achieved only by uncritically accepting its own assumptions as valid in another sphere.

[31] This much, then, is certain: Analysis within the world of percepts cannot establish Critical Idealism, and, consequently, cannot strip percepts of their objective character.

[32] Still less is it legitimate to represent the principle that "the perceptual world is my idea" as self-evident and needing no proof. Schopenhauer begins his chief work, The World as Will and Idea, with the words:

"The world is my idea—this is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract consciousness. If he really does this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world which surrounds him is there only in idea, i.e., only in relation to something else, the consciousness which is himself. If any truth can be asserted a priori, it is this: for it is the expression of the most general form of all possible and thinkable experience, a form which is more general than time, or space, or causality, for they all presuppose it. . ." (The World as Will and Idea, Book I, par. I).

This whole theory is wrecked by the fact, already mentioned above, that the eyes and the hand are just as much percepts as the sun and the earth. Using Schopenhauer's vocabulary in his own sense, I might maintain against him that my eye which sees the sun, and my hand which feels the earth, are my ideas just like the sun and the earth themselves. That, put in this way, the whole theory cancels itself, is clear without further argument. For only my real eye and my real hand, but not my ideas "eye" and "hand," could own the ideas "sun" and "earth" as modifications. Yet it is only in terms of these ideas that Critical Idealism has the right to speak.

[33] Critical Idealism is totally unable to gain an insight unto the relation of percept to idea. It cannot make the separation, mentioned on p. 58, between what happens to the percept in the process of perception and what must be inherent in it prior to perception. We must therefore attempt this problem in another way.



5.0 Finding The Concept That Corresponds To The World
[1] FROM the foregoing considerations it follows that it is impossible to prove, by analysis of the content of our perceptions, that our percepts are ideas. This is supposed to be proved by showing that, if the process of perceiving takes place in the way in which we conceive it in accordance with the naive-realistic assumptions concerning the psychological and physiological constitution of human individuals, then we have to do, not with things themselves, but merely with our ideas of things. Now, if Naive Realism, when consistently thought out, leads to results which directly contradict its presuppositions, then these presuppositions must be discarded as unsuitable for the foundation of a theory of the world. In any case, it is inadmissible to reject the presuppositions and yet accept the consequences, as the Critical Idealist does who bases his assertion that the world is my idea on the line of argument indicated above. (Eduard von Hartmann gives in his work Das Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie a full account of this line of argument.)

[2] The truth of Critical Idealism is one thing, the persuasiveness of its proofs another. How it stands with the former, will appear later in the course of our argument, but the persuasiveness of its proofs is nil. If one builds a house, and the ground floor collapses whilst the first floor is being built, then the first floor collapses too. Naive Realism and Critical Idealism are related to one another like the ground floor to the first floor in this simile.

[3] For one who holds that the whole perceptual world is only an ideal world, and, moreover, the effect of things unknown to him acting on his soul, the real problem of knowledge is naturally concerned, not with the ideas present only in the soul, but with the things which lie outside his consciousness, and which are independent of him. He asks, How much can we learn about them indirectly, seeing that we cannot observe them directly? From this point of view, he is concerned, not with the connection of his conscious percepts with one another, but with their causes which transcend his consciousness and exist independently of him, whereas the percepts, on his view, disappear as soon as he turns his sense-organs away from the things themselves. Our consciousness, on this view, works like a mirror from which the pictures of definite things disappear the very moment its reflecting surface is not turned towards them. If, now, we do not see the things themselves, but only their reflections, we must obtain knowledge of the nature of the former indirectly by drawing conclusions from the character of the latter. The whole of modern science adopts this point of view, when it uses percepts only as a means of obtaining information about the motions of matter which lie behind them, and which alone really "are." If the philosopher, as Critical Idealist, admits real existence at all, then his sole aim is to gain knowledge of this real existence indirectly by means of his ideas. His interest ignores the subjective world of ideas, and pursues instead the causes of these ideas.

[4] The Critical Idealist can, however, go even further and say, I am confined to the world of my own ideas and cannot escape from it. If I conceive a thing beyond my ideas, this concept, once more, is nothing but my idea. An Idealist of this type will either deny the thing-in-itself entirely or, at any rate, assert that it has no significance for human minds, i.e., that it is as good as non-existent since we can know nothing of it.

[5] To this kind of Critical Idealist the whole world seems a chaotic dream, in the face of which all striving for knowledge is simply meaningless. For him there can be only two sorts of men: (1) victims of the illusion that the dreams they have woven themselves are real things, and (2) wise men who see through the nothingness of this dream world, and who gradually lose all desire to trouble themselves further about it. From this point of view, even one's own personality may become a mere dream phantom. Just as during sleep there appears among my dream-images an image of myself, so in waking consciousness the idea of my own Self is added to the idea of the outer world. I have then given to me in consciousness, not my real Self, but only my idea of my Self. Whoever denies that things exist, or, at least, that we can know anything of them, must also deny the existence, respectively the knowledge, of one's own personality. This is how the Critical Idealist comes to maintain that "All reality transforms itself into a wonderful dream, without a life which is the object of the dream, and without a mind which has the dream; into a dream which is nothing but a dream of itself." (Cp. Fichte, Die Bestimmung des Menschen.)

[6] Whether he who believes that he recognizes immediate experience to be a dream, postulates nothing behind this dream, or whether he relates his ideas to actual things, is immaterial. In both cases life itself must lose all scientific interest for him. However, whereas for those who believe that the whole of accessible reality is exhausted in dreams, all science is an absurdity, for those who feel compelled to argue from ideas to things, science consists in studying these things-in-themselves. The first of these theories of the world may be called Absolute Illusionism, the second is called Transcendental Realism* by its most rigorously logical exponent, Eduard von Hartmann.

[7] These two points of view have this in common with Naive Realism, that they seek to gain a footing in the world by means of an analysis of percepts. Within this sphere, however, they are unable to find any stable point.

5.1 The Awakened State Of Thinking
[8] One of the most important questions for an adherent of Transcendental Realism would have to be, how the Ego constructs the world of ideas out of itself. A world of ideas which was given to us, and which disappeared as soon as we shut our senses to the external world, might provoke an earnest desire for knowledge, in so far as it was a means for investigating indirectly the world of the self-existing Self. If the things of our experience were "ideas," then our everyday life would be like a dream, and the discovery of the true facts like waking. Even our dream-images interest us as long as we dream and, consequently, do not detect their dream character. But as soon as we wake, we no longer look for the connections of our dream-images among themselves, but rather for the physical, physiological, and psychological processes which underlie them. In the same way, a philosopher who holds the world to be his idea, cannot be interested in the reciprocal relations of the details within the world. If he admits the existence of a real Ego at all, then his question will be, not how one of his ideas is associated with another, but what takes place in the Soul which is independent of these ideas, while a certain train of ideas passes through his consciousness. If I dream that I am drinking wine which makes my throat burn, and then wake up with a fit of coughing (cp. Weygandt, Entstehung der Traume, 1893) I cease, the moment I wake, to be interested in the dream-experience for its own sake. My attention is now concerned only with the physiological and psychological processes by means of which the irritation which causes me to cough, comes to be symbolically expressed in the dream. Similarly, once the philosopher is convinced that the given world consists of nothing but ideas, his interest is bound to switch from them at once to the soul which is the reality lying behind them. The matter is more serious, however, for the Illusionist who denies the existence of an Ego behind the "ideas," or at least holds this Ego to be unknowable. We might very easily be led to such a view by the reflection that, in contrast to dreaming, there is the waking state in which we have the opportunity to detect our dreams, and to realize the real relations of things, but that there is no state of the self which is related similarly to our waking conscious life. Every adherent of this view fails entirely to see that there is, in fact, something which is to mere perception what our waking experience is to our dreams. This something is thought.

5.2 Thought That Applies To The World
[9] The naive man cannot be charged with failure to perceive this. He accepts life as it is, and regards things as real just as they present themselves to him in experience. The first step, however, which we take beyond this standpoint can be only this, that we ask how thought is related to perception. It makes no difference whether or no the percept, as given to me, has a continuous existence before and after I perceive it. If I want to assert anything whatever about it, I can do so only with the help of thought. When I assert that the world is my idea, I have enunciated the result of an act of thought, and if my thought is not applicable to the world, then my result is false. Between a percept and every kind of judgment about it there intervenes thought.

5.3 World Connects With Corresponding Concept
[10] The reason why, in our discussion about things, we generally overlook the part played by thought, has already been given above (p. 31). It lies in the fact that our attention is concentrated only on the object about which we think, but not at the same time on the thinking itself. The naive mind, therefore, treats thought as something which has nothing to do with things, but stands altogether aloof from them and makes its theories about them. The theory which the thinker constructs concerning the phenomena of the world is regarded, not as part of the real things, but as existing only in men's heads. The world is complete in itself even without this theory. It is all ready-made and finished with all its substances and forces, and of this ready-made world man makes himself a picture. Whoever thinks thus need only be asked one question. What right have you to declare the world to be complete without thought? Does not the world cause thoughts in the minds of men with the same necessity as it causes the blossoms on plants? Plant a seed in the earth. It puts forth roots and stem, it unfolds into leaves and blossoms. Set the plant before yourselves. It connects itself, in your minds, with a definite concept. Why should this concept belong any less to the whole plant than leaf and blossom? You say the leaves and blossoms exist quite apart from an experiencing subject. The concept appears only when a human being makes an object of the plant. Quite so. But leaves and blossoms also appear on the plant only if there is soil in which the seed can be planted, and light and air in which the blossoms and leaves can unfold. Just so the concept of a plant arises when a thinking being comes into contact with the plant.

5.4 Process Of Growth
[11] It is quite arbitrary to regard the sum of what we experience of a thing through bare perception as a totality, a whole, while that which thought reveals in it is regarded as a mere accretion which has nothing to do with the thing itself. If I am given a rosebud today, the percept that offers itself to me is complete only for the moment. If I put the bud into water, I shall tomorrow get a very different picture of my object. If I watch the rosebud without interruption, I shall see today's state gradually change into tomorrow's through an infinite number of intermediate stages. The picture which presents itself to me at any one moment is only a chance section out of the continuous process of growth in which the object is engaged. If I do not put the bud into water, a whole series of states, the possibility of which lay in the bud, will not be realized. Similarly, I may be prevented tomorrow from watching the blossom further, and thus carry away an incomplete picture of it.

[12] It would be a quite unscientific and arbitrary judgment which declared of any haphazard appearance of a thing, this is the thing.

5.5 Indivisible Existence of Concept With Percept
[13] To regard the sum of perceptual appearances as the thing is no more legitimate. It might be quite possible for a mind to receive the concept at the same time as, and together with, the percept. To such a mind it would never occur that the concept did not belong to the thing. It would have to ascribe to the concept an existence indivisibly bound up with the thing.

[14] Let me make myself clearer by another example. If I throw a stone horizontally through the air, I perceive it in different places at different times. I connect these places so as to form a line. Mathematics teaches me to distinguish various kinds of lines, one of which is the parabola. I know a parabola to be a line which is produced by a point moving according to a certain well-defined law. If I analyze the conditions under which the stone thrown by me moves, I find that the line of its flight is identical with the line I know as a parabola. That the stone moves exactly in a parabola is a result of the given conditions and follows necessarily from them. The form of the parabola belongs to the whole phenomenon as much as any other feature of it. The hypothetical mind described above which has no need of the roundabout way of thought, would find itself presented, not only with a sequence of visual percepts at different points, but, as part and parcel of these phenomena, also with the parabolic form of the line of flight, which we can add to the phenomenon only by an act of thought.

[15] It is not due to the real objects that they appear to us at first without their conceptual sides, but to our mental organization. Our whole organization functions in such a way that in the apprehension of every real thing the relevant elements come to us from two sources, viz., from perception and from thought.

[16] The nature of things is indifferent to the way I am organized for apprehending them. The breach between perception and thought exists only from the moment that I confront objects as spectator. But which elements do, and which do not, belong to the objects, cannot depend on the manner in which I obtain my knowledge of them.

5.6 Isolate And Grasp Single Concepts
[17] Man is a being with many limitations. First of all, he is a thing among other things. His existence is in space and time. Hence but a limited portion of the total universe can ever be given to him. This limited portion, however, is linked up with other parts on every side both in time and in space. If our existence were so linked with things that every process in the object world were also a process in us, there would be no difference between us and things. Neither would there be any individual objects for us. All processes and events would then pass continuously one into the other. The cosmos would be a unity and a whole complete in itself. The stream of events would nowhere be interrupted. But owing to our limitations we perceive as an individual object what, in truth, is not an individual object at all. Nowhere, e.g., is the particular quality "red" to be found by itself in abstraction. It is surrounded on all sides by other qualities to which it belongs, and without which it could not subsist. For us, however, it is necessary to isolate certain sections of the world and to consider them by themselves. Our eye can seize only single colors one after another out of a manifold color-complex, our understanding only single concepts out of a connected conceptual system. This isolation is a subjective act, which is due to the fact that we are not identical with the world-process, but are only things among other things.

5.7 Self Definition Through Thinking
[18] It is of the greatest importance for us to determine the relation of ourselves, as things, to all other things. The determining of this relation must be distinguished from merely becoming conscious of ourselves. For this self-awareness we depend on perception just as we do for our awareness of any other thing. The perception of myself reveals to me a number of qualities which I combine into an apprehension of my personality as a whole, just as I combine the qualities, yellow, metallic, hard, etc., in the unity "gold." This kind of self-consciousness does not take me beyond the sphere of what belongs to me. Hence it must be distinguished from the determination of myself by thought. Just as I determine by thought the place of any single percept of the external world in the whole cosmic system, so I fit by an act of thought what I perceive in myself into the order of the world-process. My self-observation restricts me within definite limits, but my thought has nothing to do with these limits. In this sense I am a two-sided being. I am contained within the sphere which I apprehend as that of my personality, but I am also the possessor of an activity which, from a higher  standpoint, determines my finite existence. Thought is not individual like sensation and feeling; it is universal. It receives an individual stamp in each separate human being only because it comes to be related to his individual feelings and sensations. By means of these particular colorings of the universal thought, individual men are distinguished from one another. There is only one single concept of "triangle." It is quite immaterial for the content of this concept whether it is in A's consciousness or in B's. It will, however, be grasped by each of the two minds in its own individual way.

5.8 In Thinking We Are The All One Being
[19] This thought conflicts with a common prejudice which is very hard to overcome. The victims of this prejudice are unable to see that the concept of a triangle which my mind grasps is the same as the concept which my neighbor's mind grasps. The naive man believes himself to be the creator of his concepts. Hence he believes that each person has his private concepts. One of the first things which philosophic thought requires of us is to overcome this prejudice. The one single concept of "triangle" does not split up into many concepts because it is thought by many minds. For the thought of the many is itself a unity.

[20] In thought we have the element which welds each man's special individuality into one whole with the cosmos. In so far as we sense and feel (perceive), we are isolated individuals; in so far as we think, we are the All-One Being which pervades everything. This is the deeper meaning of our two-sided nature. We are conscious of an absolute principle revealing itself in us, a principle which is universal. But we experience it, not as it issues from the center of the world, but rather at a point on the periphery. Were the former the case, we should know, as soon as ever we became conscious, the solution of the whole world problem. But since we stand at a point on the periphery, and find that our own being is confined within definite limits, we must explore the region which lies beyond our own being with the help of thought, which is the universal cosmic principle manifesting itself in our minds.

[21] The fact that thought, in us, reaches out beyond our separate existence and relates itself to the universal world-order, gives rise to the desire for knowledge in us. Beings without thought do not experience this desire. When they come in contact with other things no questions arise for them. These other things remain external to such beings. But in thinking beings the concept confronts the external thing. It is that part of the thing which we receive not from without, but from within. To assimilate, to unite, the two elements, the inner and the outer, that is the function of knowledge.

[22] The percept, thus, is not something finished and self-contained, but one side only of the total reality. The other side is the concept. The act of cognition is the synthesis of percept and concept. And it is only the union of percept and concept which constitutes the whole thing.

5.9 Will Is Objectified In Action And Known By Thinking
[23] The preceding discussion shows clearly that it is futile to seek for any other common element in the separate things of the world than the ideal content which thinking supplies. All attempts to discover any other principle of unity in the world than this internally coherent ideal content, which we gain for ourselves by the conceptual analysis of our percepts, are bound to fail. Neither a personal God, nor force, nor matter, nor the blind will (of Schopenhauer and Hartmann), can be accepted by us as the universal principle of unity in the world. These principles all belong only to a limited sphere of our experience. Personality we experience only in ourselves, force and matter only in external things. The will, again, can be regarded only as the expression of the activity of our finite personalities. Schopenhauer wants to avoid making "abstract" thought the principle of unity in the world, and seeks instead something which presents itself to him immediately as real. This philosopher holds that we can never solve the riddle of the world so long as we regard it as an "external" world.

"In fact, the meaning for which we seek of that world which is present to us only as our idea, or the transition from the world as mere idea of the knowing subject to whatever it may be besides this, would never be found if the investigator himself were nothing more than the pure knowing subject (a winged cherub without a body). But he himself is rooted in that world: he finds himself in it as an individual, that is to say, his knowledge, which is the necessary supporter of the whole world as idea, is yet always given through the medium of a body, whose affections are, as we have shown, the starting-point for the understanding in the perception of that world. His body is, for the pure knowing subject, an idea like every other idea, an object among objects. Its movements and actions are so far known to him in precisely the same way as the changes of all other perceived objects, and would be just as strange and incomprehensible to him if their meaning were not explained for him in an entirely different way. . . . The body is given in two entirely different ways to the subject of knowledge, who becomes an individual only through his identity with it. It is given as an idea in intelligent perception, as an object among objects and subject to the laws of objects. And it is also given in quite a different way as that which is immediately known to every one, and is signified by the word ' will.' Every true act of his will is also at once and without exception a movement of his body. The act of will and the movement of the body are not two different things objectively known, which the bond of causality unites; they do not stand in the relation of cause and effect; they are one and the same, but they are given in entirely different ways—immediately, and again in perception for the understanding." (The World as Will and Idea, Book 2, § 18.)

Schopenhauer considers himself entitled by these arguments to hold that the will becomes objectified in the human body. He believes that in the activities of the body he has an immediate experience of reality, of the thing-in-itself in the concrete. Against these arguments we must urge that the activities of our body become known to us only through self-observation, and that, as such, they are in no way superior to other percepts. If we want to know their real nature, we can do so only by means of thought, i.e., by fitting them into the ideal system of our concepts and ideas.

5.10 Corresponding Intuition
[24] One of the most deeply rooted prejudices of the naive mind is the opinion that thinking is abstract and empty of any concrete content. At best, we are told, it supplies but an "ideal" counterpart of the unity of the world, but never that unity itself. Whoever holds this view has never made clear to himself what a percept apart from concepts really is. Let us see what this world of bare percepts is. A mere juxtaposition in space, a mere succession in time, a chaos of disconnected particulars—that is what it is. None of these things which come and go on the stage of perception has any connection with any other. The world is a multiplicity of objects without distinctions of value. None plays any greater part in the nexus of the world than any other. In order to realize that this or that fact has a greater importance than another we must go to thought. As long as we do not think, the rudimentary organ of an animal which has no significance in its life, appears equal in value to its more important limbs. The particular facts reveal their meaning, in themselves and in their relations with other parts of the world, only when thought spins its threads from thing to thing. This activity of thinking has always a content. For it is only through a perfectly definite concrete content that I can know why the snail belongs to a lower type of organization than the lion. The mere appearance, the percept, gives me no content which could inform me as to the degree of perfection of the organization.

[25] Thought contributes this content to the percept from the world of concepts and ideas. In contrast with the content of perception which is given to us from without, the content of thought appears within our minds. The form in which thought first appears in consciousness we will call "intuition." Intuition is to thoughts what observation is to percepts. Intuition and observation are the sources of our knowledge. An external object which we observe remains unintelligible to us, until the corresponding intuition arises within us which adds to the reality those sides of it which are lacking in the percept. To anyone who is, incapable of supplying the relevant intuitions, the full nature of the real remains a sealed book. Just as the color-blind person sees only differences of brightness without any color qualities, so the mind which lacks intuition sees only disconnected fragments of percepts.

[26] To explain a thing, to make it intelligible, means nothing else than to place it in the context from which it has been torn by the peculiar organization of our minds, described above. Nothing can possibly exist cut off from the universe. Hence all isolation of objects has only subjective validity for minds organized like ours. For us the universe is split up into above and below, before and after, cause and effect, object and idea, matter and force, object and subject, etc. The objects which, in observation, appear to us as separate, become combined, bit by bit, through the coherent, unified system of our intuitions. By thought we fuse again into one whole all that perception has separated.

[27] An object presents riddles to our understanding so long as it exists in isolation. But this is an abstraction of our own making and can be unmade again in the world of concepts.

5.11 Conceptual Connections Of Percepts
[28] Except through thought and perception nothing is given to us directly. The question now arises as to the interpretation of percepts on our theory. We have learnt that the proof which Critical Idealism offers for the subjective nature of percepts collapses. But the exhibition of the falsity of the proof is not, by itself, sufficient to show that the doctrine itself is an error. Critical Idealism does not base its proof on the absolute nature of thought, but relies on the argument that Naive Realism, when followed to its logical conclusion, contradicts itself. How does the matter appear when we recognize the absoluteness of thought?

[29] Let us assume that a certain percept, e.g., red, appears in consciousness. To continued observation, the percept shows itself to be connected with other percepts, e.g., a certain figure, temperature, and touch-qualities. This complex of percepts I call an object in the world of sense. I can now ask myself: Over and above the percepts just mentioned, what else is there in the section of space in which they are? I shall then find mechanical, chemical, and other processes in that section of space. I next go further and study the processes which take place between the object and my sense-organs. I shall find oscillations in an elastic medium, the character of which has not the least in common with the percepts from which I started. I get the same result if I trace further the connection between sense-organs and brain. In each of these inquiries I gather new percepts, but the connecting thread which binds all these spatially and temporally separated percepts into one whole, is thought. The air vibrations which carry sound are given to me as percepts just like the sound. Thought alone links all these percepts one to the other and exhibits them in their reciprocal relations. We have no right to say that over and above our immediate percepts there is anything except the ideal nexus of percepts (which thought has to reveal). The relation of the object perceived to the perceiving subject, which relation transcends the bare percept, is therefore purely ideal, i.e., capable of being expressed only through concepts. Only if it were possible to perceive how the object of perception affects the perceiving subject, or, alternatively, only if I could watch the construction of the perceptual complex through the subject, could we speak as modern Physiology, and the Critical Idealism which is based on it, speak. Their theory confuses an ideal relation (that of the object to the subject) with a process of which we could speak only if it were possible to perceive it. The proposition, "No color without a color-sensing eye," cannot be taken to mean that the eye produces the color, but only that an ideal relation, recognizable by thought, subsists between the percept "color" and the percept "eye."

To empirical science belongs the task of ascertaining how the properties of the eye and those of the colors are related to one another; by means of what structures the organ of sight makes possible the perception of colors, etc. I can trace how one percept succeeds another and how one is related to others in space, and I can formulate these relations in conceptual terms, but I can never perceive how a percept originates out of the non-perceptible. All attempts to seek any relations between percepts other than conceptual relations must of necessity fail.

5.12 Conceptual Intuition Corresponds To Objective Percept
[30] What then is a percept? This question, asked in this general way, is absurd. A percept appears always as a perfectly determinate, concrete content. This content is immediately given and is completely contained in the given. The only question one can ask concerning the given content is, what it is apart from perception, that is, what it is for thought. The question concerning the "what" of a percept can, therefore, only refer to the conceptual intuition which corresponds to the percept. From this point of view, the problem of the subjectivity of percepts, in the sense in which the Critical Idealists debate it, cannot be raised at all. Only that which is experienced as belonging to the subject can be termed "subjective." To form a link between subject and object is impossible for any real process, in the naive sense of the word "real," in which it means a process which can be perceived. That is possible only for thought. For us, then, "objective" means that which, for perception, presents itself as external to the perceiving subject. As subject of perception I remain perceptible to myself after the table which now stands before me has disappeared from my field of observation. The perception of the table has produced a modification in me which persists like myself. I preserve an image of the table which now forms part of my Self. Modern Psychology terms this image a "memory-idea." Now this is the only thing which has any right to be called the idea of the table. For it is the perceptible modification of my own mental state through the presence of the table in my visual field. Moreover, it does not mean a modification in some "Ego-in-itself" behind the perceiving subject, but the modification of the perceiving subject itself. The idea is, therefore, a subjective percept in contrast with the objective percept which occurs when the object is present in the perceptual field. The false identification of the subjective with this objective percept leads to the misunderstanding of Idealism: The world is my idea.

[31] Our next task must be to define the concept of "idea" more nearly. What we have said about it so far does not give us the concept, but only shows us where in the perceptual field ideas are to be found. The exact concept of "idea" will also make it possible for us to obtain a satisfactory understanding of the relation of idea and object. This will then lead us over the border-line, where the relation of subject to object is brought down from the purely conceptual field of knowledge into concrete individual life. Once we know how we are to conceive the world, it will be an easy task to adapt ourselves to it. Only when we know to what object we are to devote our activity can we put our whole energy into our actions.

* Knowledge is transcendental when it is aware that nothing can be asserted directly about the thing-in-itself but makes indirect inferences from the subjective which is known to the unknown which lies beyond the subjective (transcendental). The thing-in-itself is, according to this view, beyond the sphere of the world of immediate experience; in other words, it is transcendent. Our world can, however, be transcendentally related to the transcendent. Hartmann's theory is called Realism because it proceeds from the subjective, the mental, to the transcendent, the real.

Addition to the Revised Edition (1918)
[1] The view which I have here outlined may be regarded as one to which man is led as it were spontaneously, as soon as he begins to reflect about his relation to the world. He then finds himself caught in a system of thoughts which dissolves for him as fast as he frames it. The thoughts which form this system are such that the purely theoretical refutation of them does not exhaust our task. We have to live through them, in order to understand the confusion into which they lead us, and to find the way out. They must figure in any discussion of the relation of man to the world, not for the sake of refuting others whom one believes to be holding mistaken views about this relation, but because it is necessary to understand the confusion in which all first efforts at reflection about such a relation are apt to issue. One needs to learn by experience how to refute oneself with respect to these first reflections. This is the point of view from which the arguments of the preceding chapter are to be understood.

[2] Whoever tries to work out for himself a theory of the relation of man to the world, becomes aware of the fact that he creates this relation, at least in part, by forming ideas about the things and events in the world. In consequence, his attention is deflected from what exists outside in the world and directed towards his inner world, the realm of his ideas. He begins to say to himself, it is impossible for me to stand in relation to any thing or event, unless an idea appears in me. From this fact, once noticed, it is but a step to the theory: all that I experience is only my ideas; of the existence of a world outside I know only in so far as it is an idea in me. With this theory, man abandons the stand point of Naive Realism which he occupies prior to all reflection about his relation to the world. So long as he stands there, he believes that he is dealing with real things, but reflection about himself drives him away from this position. Reflection does not reveal to his gaze a real world such as naive consciousness claims to have before it. Reflection reveals to him only his ideas; they interpose themselves between his own nature and a supposedly real world, such as the naive point of view confidently affirms. The interposition of the world of ideas prevents man from perceiving any longer such a real world. He must suppose that he is blind to such a reality. Thus arises the concept of a "thing-in-itself" which is inaccessible to knowledge.

So long as we consider only the relation to the world into which man appears to enter through the stream of his ideas, we can hardly avoid framing this type of theory. Yet we cannot remain at the point of view of Naive Realism except at the price of closing our minds artificially to the desire for knowledge. The existence of this desire for knowledge about the relation of man to the world proves that the naive point of view must be abandoned. If the naive point of view yielded anything which we could acknowledge as truth, we could not experience this desire.

But mere abandonment of the naive point of view does not lead to any other view which we could regard as true, so long as we retain, without noticing it, the type of theory which the naive point of view imposes on us. This is the mistake made by the man who says, I experience only my ideas, and though I think that I am dealing with real things, I am actually conscious of nothing but my ideas of real things. I must, therefore, suppose that genuine realities, "things-in-themselves," exist only outside the boundary of my consciousness; that they are inaccessible to my immediate knowledge; but that they somehow come into contact with me and influence me so as to make a world of ideas arise in me. Whoever thinks thus, duplicates in thought the world before him by adding another. But, strictly he ought to begin his whole theorizing over again with regard to this second world. For the unknown "thing-in-itself," in its relation to man's own nature, is conceived in exactly the same way as is the known thing of the naively realistic point of view.

There is only one way of escaping from the confusion into which one falls, by critical reflection on this naive point of view. This is to observe that, at the very heart of everything we can experience, be it within the mind or outside in the world of perception, there is something, which does not share the fate of an idea inter posing itself between the real event and the contemplating mind. This something is thinking. With regard to thinking we can maintain the point of view of Naive Realism. If we mistakenly abandon it, it is only because we have learnt that we must abandon it for other mental activities, but overlook that what we have found to be true for other activities, does not apply to thinking. When we realize this, we gain access to the further insight that, in thinking and through thinking, man necessarily comes to know the very thing to which he appears to blind himself by interposing between the world and himself the stream of his ideas.

A critic highly esteemed by the author of this book has objected that this discussion of thinking stops at a naively realistic theory of thinking, as shown by the fact that the real world and the world of ideas are held to be identical. However, the author believes himself to have shown in this very discussion that the validity of "Naive Realism," as applied to thinking, results inevitably from an unprejudiced study of thinking; and that Naive Realism, in so far as it is invalid for other mental activities, is overcome through the recognition of the true nature of thinking.



6.0 Corresponding Concept Relates Self To The World
[1] PHILOSOPHERS have found the chief difficulty in the explanation of ideas in the fact that we are not identical with the external objects, and yet our ideas must have a form corresponding to their objects. But on closer inspection it turns out that this difficulty does not really exist. We certainly are not identical with the external things, but we belong together with them to one and the same world. The stream of the universal cosmic process passes through that segment of the world which, to my perception, is myself as subject. So far as my perception goes, I am, in the first instance, confined within the limits bounded by my skin. But all that is contained within the skin belongs to the cosmos as a whole. Hence, for a relation to subsist between my organism and an object external to me, it is by no means necessary that something of the object should slip into me, or make an impression on my mind, like a signet ring on wax. The question, How do I gain knowledge of that tree ten feet away from me, is utterly misleading. It springs from the view that the boundaries of my body are absolute barriers, through which information about external things filters into me. The forces which are active within my body are the same as those which exist outside. I am, therefore, really identical with the objects; not, however, I in so far as I am subject of perception, but I in so far as I am a part within the universal cosmic process. The percept of the tree belongs to the same whole as my Self. The universal cosmic process produces alike, here the percept of the tree, and there the percept of my Self. Were I a world-creator instead of a world-knower, subject and object (percept and self) would originate in one act. For they condition one another reciprocally. As world-knower I can discover the common element in both, so far as they are complementary aspects of the world, only through thought which by means of concepts relates the one to the other.

6.1 Sense Perception Of Motion
[2] The most difficult to drive from the field are the so-called physiological proofs of the subjectivity of our percepts. When I exert pressure on the skin of my body, I experience it as a pressure sensation. This same pressure can be sensed as light by the eye, as sound by the ear. I experience an electrical shock by the eye as light, by the ear as sound, by the nerves of the skin as touch, and by the nose as a smell of phosphorus. What follows from these facts? Only this: I experience an electrical shock, or, as the case may be, a pressure followed by a light, or a sound, or, it may be, a certain smell, etc. If there were no eye present, then no light quality would accompany the perception of the mechanical vibrations in my environment; without the presence of the ear, no sound, etc. But what right have we to say that in the absence of sense-organs the whole process would not exist at all? All those who, from the fact that an electrical process causes a sensation of light in the eye, conclude that what we sense as light is only a mechanical process of motion, forget that they are only arguing from one percept to another, and not at all to something altogether transcending percepts. Just as we can say that the eye perceives a mechanical process of motion in its surroundings as light, so we can affirm that every change in an object, determined by natural law, is perceived by us as a process of motion. If I draw twelve pictures of a horse on the circumference of a rotating disc, reproducing exactly the positions which the horse's body successively assumes in movement, I can, by rotating the disc, produce the illusion of movement. I need only look through an opening in such a way that, at regular intervals, I perceive the successive positions of the horse. I perceive, not separate pictures of twelve horses, but one picture of a single galloping horse.

[3] The above-mentioned physiological facts cannot, therefore, throw any light on the relation of percept to idea. Hence, we must seek a relation some other way.

6.2 Idea: Intuition Related To A Percept
[4] The moment a percept appears in my field of consciousness, thought, too, becomes active in me. A member of my thought-system, a definite intuition, a concept, connects itself with the percept. When, next, the percept disappears from my field of vision, what remains? The intuition, with the reference to the particular percept which it acquired in the moment of perception. The degree of vividness with which I can subsequently recall this reference depends on the manner in which my mental and bodily organism is working. An idea is nothing but an intuition related to a particular percept; it is a concept which was once connected with a certain percept, and which retains this reference to the percept. My concept of a lion is not constructed out of my percepts of a lion; but my idea of a lion is formed under the guidance of the percepts. I can teach someone to form the concept of a lion without his ever having seen a lion, but I can never give him a living idea of it without the help of his own perception.

6.3 Idea: Individualized Concept
[5] An idea is therefore nothing but an individualized concept. And now we can see how real objects can be represented to us by ideas. The full reality of a thing is present to us in the moment of observation through the combination of concept and percept. The concept acquires by means of the percept an individualized form, a relation to this particular percept. In this individualized form which carries with it, as an essential feature, the reference to the percept, it continues to exist in us and constitutes the idea of the thing in question. If we come across a second thing with which the same concept connects itself, we recognize the second as being of the same kind as the first; if we come across the same thing twice, we find in our conceptual system, not merely a corresponding concept, but the individualized concept with its characteristic relation to this same object, and thus we recognize the object again.

[6] The idea, then, stands between the percept and the concept. It is the determinate concept which points to the percept.

6.4 Idea: Acquired Experience
[7] The sum of my ideas may be called my experience. The man who has the greater number of individualized concepts will be the man of richer experience. A man who lacks all power of intuition is not capable of acquiring experience. The objects simply disappear again from the field of his consciousness, because he lacks the concepts which he ought to bring into relation with them. On the other hand, a man whose faculty of thought is well developed, but whose perception functions badly owing to his clumsy sense-organs, will be no better able to gain experience. He can, it is true, by one means and another acquire concepts; but the living reference to particular objects is lacking to his intuitions. The unthinking traveler and the student absorbed in abstract conceptual systems are alike incapable of acquiring a rich experience.

6.5 Idea: Subjective Representation Of Reality
[8] Reality presents itself to us as the union of percept and concept; and the subjective representation of this reality presents itself to us as idea.

[9] If our personality expressed itself only in cognition, the totality of all that is objective would be contained in percept, concept and idea.

6.6 Refer Percepts To Feelings
[10] However, we are not satisfied merely to refer percepts, by means of thinking, to concepts, but we relate them also to our private subjectivity, our individual Ego. The expression of this relation to us as individuals is feeling, which manifests itself as pleasure and pain.

6.7 Two-Fold Nature: Thinking And Feeling
[11] Thinking and feeling correspond to the two-fold nature of our being to which reference has already been made. By means of thought we take an active part in the universal cosmic process. By means of feeling we withdraw ourselves into the narrow precincts of our own being.

[12] Thought links us to the world; feeling leads us back into ourselves and thus makes us individuals. Were we merely thinking and perceiving beings, our whole life would flow along in monotonous indifference. Could we only know ourselves as Selves, we should be totally indifferent to ourselves. It is only because with self-knowledge we experience self-feeling, and with the perception of objects pleasure and pain, that we live as individuals whose existence is not exhausted by the conceptual relations in which they stand to the rest of the world, but who have a special value in themselves.

[13] One might be tempted to regard the life of feeling as something more richly saturated with reality than the apprehension of the world by thought. But the reply to this is that the life of feeling, after all, has this richer meaning only for my individual self. For the universe as a whole my feelings can be of value only if, as percepts of myself, they enter into connection with a concept and in this roundabout way become links in the cosmos.

6.8 True Individuality
[14] Our life is a continual oscillation between our share in the universal world-process and our own individual existence. The farther we ascend into the universal nature of thought where the individual, at last, interests us only as an example, an instance, of the concept, the more the character of something individual, of the quite determinate, unique personality, becomes lost in us. The farther we descend into the depths of our own private life and allow the vibrations of our feelings to accompany all our experiences of the outer world, the more we cut ourselves off from the universal life. True individuality belongs to him whose feelings reach up to the farthest possible extent into the region of the ideal. There are men in whom even the most general ideas still bear that peculiar personal tinge which shows unmistakably their connection with their author. There are others whose concepts come before us as devoid of any trace of individual coloring as if they had not been produced by a being of flesh and blood at all.

6.9 Point Of View
[15] Even ideas give to our conceptual life an individual stamp. Each one of us has his special standpoint from which he looks out on the world. His concepts link themselves to his percepts. He has his own special way of forming general concepts. This special character results for each of us from his special standpoint in the world, from the way in which the range of his percepts is dependent on the place in the whole where he exists. The conditions of individuality here indicated, we call the milieu.

6.10 Intensity Of Feelings
[16] This special character of our experience must be distinguished from another which depends on our peculiar organization. Each of us, as we know, is organized as a unique, fully determined individual. Each of us combines special feelings, and these in the most varying degrees of intensity, with his percepts. This is just the individual element in the personality of each of us. It is what remains over when we have allowed fully for all the determining factors in our milieu.

6.11 Education Of Feelings
[17] A life of feeling, wholly devoid of thought, would gradually lose all connection with the world. But man is meant to be a whole, and knowledge of objects will go hand-in-hand for him with the development and education of the feeling-side of his nature.

6.12 Living Concepts
[18] Feeling is the means whereby, in the first instance, concepts gain concrete life.

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22 hoernle part 1

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The Philosophy Of Freedom
by Rudolf Steiner
 (revised in 1918)
1922 Hoernle translation
(The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity)
The Theory of Freedom

The Reality of Freedom

12. MORAL IMAGINATION (Darwin and Morality)
13. THE VALUE OF LIFE (Optimism and Pessimism)



0.0 Impulse Of Freedom
[1] I BELIEVE I am indicating correctly one of the fundamental characteristics of our age when I say that, at the present day, all human interests tend to centre in the cult of human individuality. An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. Everything which hinders the individual in the full development of his powers is thrust aside. The saying “Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Olympus” no longer holds for us. We allow no ideals to be forced upon us. We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development. We no longer believe that there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform. We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual. We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something which, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer. Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each of them asserts his right to express, in the creations of his art, what is unique in him. There are dramatists who write in dialect rather than conform to the standard diction which grammar demands.

[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, that they result from the individual’s striving towards freedom, developed to its highest pitch. We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition that it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.

THE following chapter reproduces, in all essentials, the pages which stood as a sort of "Introduction" in the first edition of this book. Inasmuch as it rather reflects the mood out of which I composed this book twenty-five years ago, than has any direct bearing on its contents, I print it here as an "Appendix." I do not want to omit it altogether, because the suggestion keeps cropping up that I want to suppress some of my earlier writings on account of my later works on spiritual matters. 

0.1 Inner Truth Gives Conviction
[3] Our age is one which is unwilling to seek truth anywhere but in the depths of human nature.*

* Only the very first opening sentences (in the first edition) of this argument have been altogether omitted here, because they seem to me today wholly irrelevant. But the rest of the chapter seems to me even today relevant and necessary, in spite, nay, because, of the scientific bias of contemporary thought.

Of the following two well-known paths described by Schiller, it is the second which will today be found most useful:

Wahrheit suchen wir beide, du aussen im Leben, ich innen
In dem Herzen, und so findet sie jeder gewiss.
Ist das Auge gesund, so begegnet es aussen dem Schopfer;
Ist es das Herz, dann gewiss spiegelt es innen die Welt.

Truth seek we both — Thou in the life without thee and around;
I in the heart within. By both can Truth alike be found.
The healthy eye can through the world the great Creator track;
The healthy heart is but the glass which gives Creation back.

A truth which comes to us from without bears ever the stamp of uncertainty. Conviction attaches only to what appears as truth to each of us in our own hearts. 

0.2 Truth Empowers
[4] Truth alone can give us confidence in developing our powers. He who is tortured by doubts finds his powers lamed. In a world the riddle of which baffles him, he can find no aim for his activity.

0.3 Comprehensible Truth
[5] We no longer want to believe; we want to know. Belief demands the acceptance of truths which we do not wholly comprehend. But the individuality which seeks to experience everything in the depths of its own being, is repelled by what it cannot understand. Only that knowledge will satisfy us which springs from the inner life of the personality, and submits itself to no external norm.

0.4 Knowledge Starting From Individual Experience
[6] Again, we do not want any knowledge which has encased itself once and for all in hidebound formulas, and which is preserved in Encyclopedias valid for all time. Each of us claims the right to start from the facts that lie nearest to hand, from his own immediate experiences, and thence to ascend to a knowledge of the whole universe. We strive after certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way.

0.5 Individual Need To Know
[7] Our scientific theories, too, are no longer to be formulated as if we were unconditionally compelled to accept them. None of us would wish to give a scientific work a title like Fichte's “A Pellucid Account for the General Public concerning the Real Nature of the Newest Philosophy. An Attempt to Compel the Readers to Understand.” Nowadays there is no attempt to compel anyone to understand. We claim no agreement from anyone whom a distinct individual need does not drive to a certain view. We do not seek nowadays to cram facts of knowledge even into the immature human being, the child. We seek rather to develop his faculties in such a way that his understanding may depend no longer on our compulsion, but on his will.

0.6 Strive To Live According To Individualistic Principles
I am under no illusion concerning the characteristics of the present age. I know how many flaunt a manner of life which lacks all individuality and follows only the prevailing fashion. But I know also that many of my contemporaries strive to order their lives in the direction of the principles I have indicated. To them I would dedicate this book. It does not pretend to offer the "only possible" way to Truth, it only describes the path chosen by one whose heart is set upon Truth.

0.7 Thought Training In Pure Thinking
[8] The reader will be led at first into somewhat abstract regions, where thought must draw sharp outlines, if it is to reach secure conclusions. But he will also be led out of these arid concepts into concrete life. I am fully convinced that one cannot do without soaring into the ethereal realm of abstraction, if one's experience is to penetrate life in all directions. He who is limited to the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest enjoyments of life. The Oriental sages make their disciples live for years a life of resignation and asceticism before they impart to them their own wisdom. The Western world no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices as a preparation for science, but it does require a sincere willingness to withdraw oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and to betake oneself into the realm of pure thought.

0.8 Holistic Science Leading To Fullness Of Life
[9] The spheres of life are many and for each there develops a special science. But life itself is one, and the more the sciences strive to penetrate deeply into their separate spheres, the more they withdraw themselves from the vision of the world as a living whole. There must be one supreme science which seeks in the separate sciences the elements for leading men back once more to the fullness of life. The scientific specialist seeks in his studies to gain a knowledge of the world and its workings. This book has a philosophical aim: science itself is here infused with the life of an organic whole. The special sciences are stages on the way to this all-inclusive science. A similar relation is found in the arts. The composer in his work employs the rules of the theory of composition. This latter is an accumulation of principles, knowledge of which is a necessary presupposition for composing. In the act of composing, the rules of theory become the servants of life, of reality. In exactly the same way philosophy is an art. All genuine philosophers have been artists in concepts. Human ideas have been the medium of their art, and scientific method their artistic technique. Abstract thinking thus gains concrete individual life. Ideas turn into life-forces. We have no longer merely a knowledge about things, but we have now made knowledge a real, self-determining organism. Our consciousness, alive and active, has risen beyond a mere passive reception of truths.

0.9 The Principle Question Is Freedom
[10] How philosophy, as an art, is related to freedom; what freedom is; and whether we do, or can, participate in it — these are the principal problems of my book. All other scientific discussions are put in only because they ultimately throw light on these questions which are, in my opinion, the most intimate that concern mankind. These pages offer a "Philosophy of Freedom."

0.10 Value Of Science Is Human Development
[11] All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity did it not strive to enhance the existential value of human personality. The true value of the sciences is seen only when we are shown the importance of their results for humanity. The final aim of an individuality can never be the cultivation of any single faculty, but only the development of all capacities which slumber within us. Knowledge has value only in so far as it contributes to the all-round unfolding of the whole nature of man.

0.11 Ideas To Serve Human Goals
[12] This book, therefore, does not conceive the relation between science and life in such a way that man must bow down before the world of ideas and devote his powers to its service. On the contrary, it shows that he takes possession of the world of ideas in order to use them for his human aims, which transcend those of mere science.

0.12 Master Over Ideas
[13] Man must confront ideas as master, lest he become their slave.



THERE are two fundamental problems in the life of the human mind, to one or other of which everything belongs that is to be discussed in this book. One of these problems concerns the possibility of attaining to such a view of the essential nature of man as will serve as a support for whatever else comes into his life by way of experience or of science, and yet is subject to the suspicion of having no support in itself and of being liable to be driven, by doubt and criticism, into the limbo of uncertainties. The other problem is this: Is man, as voluntary agent, entitled to attribute freedom to himself, or is freedom a mere illusion begotten of his inability to recognise the threads of necessity on which his volition, like any natural event, depends? It is no artificial tissue of theories which provokes this question. In a certain mood it presents itself quite naturally to the human mind. And it is easy to feel that a mind lacks something of its full stature which has never once confronted with the utmost seriousness of inquiry the two possibilities: freedom or necessity.

This book is intended to show that the spiritual experiences which the second problem causes man to undergo, depend upon the position he is able to take up towards the first problem. An attempt will be made to prove that there is a view concerning the essential nature of man which can support the rest of knowledge; and, further, an attempt to point out how with this view we gain a complete justification for the idea of free will, provided only that we have first discovered that region of the mind in which free volition can unfold itself.

The view to which we here refer is one which, once gained, is capable of becoming part and parcel of the very life of the mind itself. The answer given to the two problems will not be of the purely theoretical sort which, once mastered, may be carried about as a mere piece of memory-knowledge. Such an answer would, for the whole manner of thinking adopted in this book, be no real answer at all. The book will not give a finished and complete answer of this sort, but point to a field of spiritual experience in which man's own inward spiritual activity supplies a living answer to these questions, as often as he needs one. Whoever has once discovered the region of the mind where these questions arise, will find precisely in his actual acquaintance with this region all that he needs for the solution of his two problems. With the knowledge thus acquired he may then, as desire or fate dictate, adventure further into the breadths and depths of this unfathomable life of ours. Thus it would appear that there is a kind of knowledge which proves its justification and validity by its own inner life as well as by the kinship of its own life with the whole life of the human mind.

This is how I conceived the contents of this book when I first wrote it twenty-five years ago. Today, once again, I have to set down similar sentences if I am to characterise the leading thoughts of my book. At the original writing I contented myself with saying no more than was in the strictest sense connected with the fundamental problems which I have outlined. If anyone should be astonished at not finding in this book as yet any reference to that region of the world of spiritual experience of which I have given an account in my later writings, I would ask him to bear in mind that it was not my purpose at that time to set down the results of spiritual research, but first to lay the foundations on which such results can rest. The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity contains no special results of this spiritual sort, as little as it contains special results of the natural sciences. But what it does contain is, in my judgment, indispensable for anyone who desires a secure foundation for such knowledge. What I have said in this book may be acceptable even to some who, for reasons of their own, refuse to have anything to do with the results of my researches into the Spiritual Realm. But anyone who finds something to attract him in my inquiries into the Spiritual Realm may well appreciate the importance of what I was here trying to do. It is this: to show that open-minded consideration simply of the two problems which I have indicated and which are fundamental for all knowledge, leads to the view that man lives in the midst of a genuine Spiritual World. The aim of this book is to demonstrate, prior to our entry upon spiritual experience, that knowledge of the Spiritual World is a fact. This demonstration is so conducted that it is never necessary, in order to accept the present arguments, to cast furtive glances at the experiences on which I have dwelt in my later writings. All that is necessary is that the reader should be willing and able to adapt himself to the manner of the present discussions.

Thus it seems to me that in one sense this book occupies a position completely independent of my writings on strictly spiritual matters. Yet in another sense it seems to be most intimately connected with them. These considerations have moved me now, after a lapse of twenty-five years, to re-publish the contents of this book in the main without essential alterations. I have only made additions of some length to a number of chapters. The misunderstandings of my argument with which I have met seemed to make these more detailed elaborations necessary. Actual changes of text have been made by me only where it seemed to me now that I had said clumsily what I meant to say a quarter of a century ago. (Only malice could find in these changes occasion to suggest that I have changed my fundamental conviction.)

For many years my book has been out of print. In spite of the fact, which is apparent from what I have just said, that my utterances of twenty-five years ago about these problems still seem to me just as relevant today, I hesitated a long time about the completion of this revised edition. Again and again I have asked myself whether I ought not, at this point or that, to define my position towards the numerous philosophical theories which have been put forward since the publication of the first edition. Yet my preoccupation in recent years with researches into the purely Spiritual Realm prevented my doing as I could have wished. However, a survey, as thorough as I could make it, of the philosophical literature of the present day has convinced me that such a critical discussion, alluring though it would be in itself, would be out of place in the context of what my book has to say. All that, from the point of view of the Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, it seemed to me necessary to say about recent philosophical tendencies may be found in the second volume of my Riddles of Philosophy.

April 1918.



1.0 The Question Of Freedom
[1] IS man free in action and thought, or is he bound by an iron necessity? There are few questions on which so much ingenuity has been expended. The idea of freedom has found enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents in plenty. There are those who, in their moral fervor, label anyone a man of limited intelligence who can deny so patent a fact as freedom. Opposed to them are others who regard it as the acme of unscientific thinking for anyone to believe that the uniformity of natural law is broken in the sphere of human action and thought. One and the same thing is thus proclaimed, now as the most precious possession of humanity, now as its most fatal illusion. Infinite subtlety has been employed to explain how human freedom can be consistent with determinism in nature of which man, after all, is a part. Others have been at no less pains to explain how such a delusion as this could have arisen. That we are dealing here with one of the most important questions for life, religion, conduct, science, must be clear to every one whose most prominent trait of character is not the reverse of thoroughness.

1.1 Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
It is one of the sad signs of the superficiality of present-day thought, that a book which attempts to develop a new faith out of the results of recent scientific research (David Friedrich Strauss, Der alte und neue Glaube), has nothing more to say on this question than these words: 

"With the question of the freedom of the human will we are not concerned. The alleged freedom of indifferent choice has been recognized as an empty illusion by every philosophy worthy of the name. The determination of the moral value of human conduct and character remains untouched by this problem."

It is not because I consider that the book in which it occurs has any special importance that I quote this passage, but because it seems to me to express the only view to which the thought of the majority of our contemporaries is able to rise in this matter. Every one who has grown beyond the kindergarten-stage of science appears to know nowadays that freedom cannot consist in choosing, at one's pleasure, one or other of two possible courses of action. There is always, so we are told, a perfectly definite reason why, out of several possible actions, we carry out just one and no other.

1.2 Freedom Of Choice
[2] This seems quite obvious. Nevertheless, down to the present day, the main attacks of the opponents of freedom are directed only against freedom of choice. Even Herbert Spencer, in fact, whose doctrines are gaining ground daily, says,

"That every one is at liberty to desire or not to desire, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of free will, is negatived as much by the analysis of consciousness, as by the contents of the preceding chapters" (The Principles of Psychology, Part IV, chap, ix, par. 219).

1.3 Free Necessity Of One's Nature
Others, too, start from the same point of view in combating the concept of free will. The germs of all the relevant arguments are to be found as early as Spinoza. All that he brought forward in clear and simple language against the idea of freedom has since been repeated times without number, but as a rule enveloped in the most sophisticated arguments, so that it is difficult to recognize the straightforward train of thought which is alone in question. Spinoza writes in a letter of October or November, 1674,

"I call a thing free which exists and acts from the pure necessity of its nature, and I call that unfree, of which the being and action are precisely and fixedly determined by something else. Thus, e.g., God, though necessary, is free because he exists only through the necessity of his own nature. Similarly, God knows himself and all else as free, because it follows solely from the necessity of his nature that he knows all. You see, therefore, that for me freedom consists not in free decision, but in free necessity.

[3] But let us come down to created things which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and definite manner. To perceive this more clearly, let us imagine a perfectly simple case. A stone, for example, receives from an external cause acting upon it a certain quantity of motion, by reason of which it necessarily continues to move, after the impact of the external cause has ceased. The continued motion of the stone is due to compulsion, not to the necessity of its own nature, because it requires to be defined by the impact of an external cause. What is true here for the stone is true also for every other particular thing, however complicated and many-sided it may be, namely, that everything is necessarily determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and definite manner.

[4] Now, pray, assume that this stone during its motion thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its power to continue in motion. This stone which is conscious only of its striving and is by no means indifferent, will believe that it is absolutely free, and that it continues in motion for no other reason than its own will to continue. Now this is that human freedom which everybody claims to possess and which consists in nothing but this, that men are conscious of their desires, but ignorant of the causes by which they are determined. Thus the child believes that he desires milk of his own free will, the angry boy regards his desire for vengeance as free, and the coward his desire for flight. Again, the drunken man believes that he says of his own free will what, sober again, he would fain have left unsaid, and as this prejudice is innate in all men, it is difficult to free oneself from it. For, although experience teaches us often enough that man least of all can temper his desires, and that, moved by conflicting passions, he perceives the better and pursues the worse, yet he considers himself free because there are some things which he desires less strongly, and some desires which he can easily inhibit through the recollection of something else which it is often possible to recall."

[5] It is easy to detect the fundamental error of this view, because it is so clearly and definitely expressed. The same necessity by which a stone makes a definite movement as the result of an impact, is said to compel a man to carry out an action when impelled thereto by any cause. It is only because man is conscious of his action, that he thinks himself to be its originator. In doing so, he overlooks the fact that he is driven by a cause which he must obey unconditionally. The error in this train of thought is easily brought to light. Spinoza, and all who think like him, overlook the fact that man not only is conscious of his action, but also may become conscious of the cause which guides him. Anyone can see that a child is not free when he desires milk, nor the drunken man when he says things which he later regrets. Neither knows anything of the causes, working deep within their organisms, which exercise irresistible control over them. But is it justifiable to lump together actions of this kind with those in which a man is conscious not only of his actions but also of their causes? Are the actions of men really all of one kind? Should the act of a soldier on the field of battle, of the scientific researcher in his laboratory, of the statesman in the most complicated diplomatic negotiations, be placed on the same level with that of the child when he desires milk? It is, no doubt, true that it is best to seek the solution of a problem where the conditions are simplest. But lack of ability to see distinctions has before now caused endless confusion. There is, after all, a profound difference between knowing the motive of my action and not knowing it. At first sight this seems a self-evident truth. And yet the opponents of freedom never ask themselves whether a motive of action which I recognize and understand, is to be regarded as compulsory for me in the same sense as the organic process which causes the child to cry for milk.

1.4 Free From External Influences
[6] Eduard von Hartmann, in his Phanomenologie des Sittlichen Bewusstseins (p. 451), asserts that the human will depends on two chief factors, the motives and the character. If one regards men as all alike, or at any rate the differences between them as negligible, then their will appears as determined from without, viz., by the circumstances with which they come in contact. But if one bears in mind that men adopt an idea as the motive of their conduct, only if their character is such that this idea arouses a desire in them, then men appear as determined from within and not from without. Now, because an idea, given to us from without, must first in accordance with our characters be adopted as a motive, men believe that they are free, i.e., independent of external influences. The truth, however, according to Eduard von Hartmann, is that

"even though we must first adopt an idea as a motive, we do so not arbitrarily, but according to the disposition of our characters, that is, we are anything but free."

Here again the difference between motives, which I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and those which I follow without any clear knowledge of them, is absolutely ignored.

1.5 Action Resulting From Conscious Motive
[7] This leads us straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be treated here. Have we any right to consider the question of the freedom of the will by itself at all? And if not, with what other question must it necessarily be connected?

[8] If there is a difference between conscious and unconscious motives of action, then the action in which the former issue should be judged differently from the action which springs from blind impulse. Hence our first question will concern this difference, and on the result of this inquiry will depend what attitude we ought to take up towards the question of freedom proper.

[9] What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been paid to this question, because, unfortunately, man who is an indivisible whole has always been torn asunder by us. The agent has been divorced from the knower, whilst he who matters more than everything else, viz., the man who acts because he knows, has been utterly overlooked.

1.6 Free When Controlled By Reason
[10] It is said that man is free when he is controlled only by his reason, and not by his animal passions. Or, again, that to be free means to be able to determine one's life and action by purposes and deliberate decisions.

[11] Nothing is gained by assertions of this sort. For the question is just whether reason, purposes, and decisions exercise the same kind of compulsion over a man as his animal passions. If, without my doing, a rational decision occurs in me with the same necessity with which hunger and thirst happen to me, then I must needs obey it, and my freedom is an illusion.

1.7 Free To Do As One Wants
[12] Another form of expression runs: to be free means, not that we can will what we will, but that we can do what we will. This thought has been expressed with great clearness by the poet-philosopher Robert Hamerling in his Atomistik des Willens.

"Man can, it is true, do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills, because his will is determined by motives! He cannot will what he wills? Let us consider these phrases more closely. Have they any intelligible meaning? Does freedom of will, then, mean being able to will without ground, without motive? What does willing mean if not to have grounds for doing, or striving to do, this rather than that? To will anything without ground or motive would mean to will something without willing it. The concept of motive is indissolubly bound up with that of will. Without the determining motive the will is an empty faculty; it is the motive which makes it active and real. It is, therefore, quite true that the human will is not 'free,' inasmuch as its direction is always determined by the strongest motive. But, on the other hand, it must be admitted that it is absurd to speak, in contrast with this 'unfreedom,' of a conceivable 'freedom' of the will, which would consist in being able to will what one does not will." (Atomistik des Willens, p. 213 ff.)

[13] Here, again, only motives in general are mentioned, without taking into account the difference between unconscious and conscious motives. If a motive affects me, and I am compelled to act on it because it proves to be the "strongest" of its kind, then the idea of freedom ceases to have any meaning. How should it matter to me whether I can do a thing or not, if I am forced by the motive to do it? The primary question is, not whether I can do a thing or not when impelled by a motive, but whether the only motives are such as impel me with absolute necessity. If I must will something, then I may well be absolutely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. And if, through my character, or through circumstances prevailing in my environment, a motive is forced on me which to my thinking is unreasonable, then I should even have to be glad if I could not do what I will.

[14] The question is, not whether I can carry out a decision once made, but how I come to make the decision.

1.8 Spontaneous Unconditioned Will
[15] What distinguishes man from all other organic beings is his rational thought. Activity is common to him with other organisms. Nothing is gained by seeking analogies in the animal world to clear up the concept of freedom as applied to the actions of human beings. Modern science loves these analogies. When scientists have succeeded in finding among animals something similar to human behavior, they believe they have touched on the most important question of the science of man. To what misunderstandings this view leads is seen, for example, in the book Die Illusion der Willensfreiheit, by P. Ree, 1885, where, on page 5, the following remark on freedom appears:

"It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone seems to us necessary, while the volition of a donkey does not. The causes which set the stone in motion are external and visible, while the causes which determine the donkey's volition are internal and invisible. Between us and the place of their activity there is the skull cap of the ass... The causal nexus is not visible and is therefore thought to be non-existent. The volition, it is explained, is, indeed, the cause of the donkey's turning round, but is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning."

Here again human actions in which there is a consciousness of the motives are simply ignored, for Ree declares, "that between us and the sphere of their activity there is the skull cap of the ass." As these words show, it has not so much as dawned on Ree that there are actions, not indeed of the ass, but of human beings, in which the motive, become conscious, lies between us and the action. Ree demonstrates his blindness once again a few pages further on, when he says, "We do not perceive the causes by which our will is determined, hence we think it is not causally determined at all."

[16] But enough of examples which prove that many argue against freedom without knowing in the least what freedom is.

1.9 Knowledge Of The Reasons
[17] That an action of which the agent does not know why he performs it, cannot be free goes without saying. But what of the freedom of an action about the motives of which we reflect? This leads us to the question of the origin and meaning of thought. For without the recognition of the activity of mind which is called thought, it is impossible to understand what is meant either by knowledge of something or by action. When we know what thought in general means, it will be easier to see clearly the role which thought plays in human action. As Hegel rightly says, "It is thought which turns the soul, common to us and animals, into spirit." Hence it is thought which we may expect to give to human action its characteristic stamp.

1.10 Driving Force Of The Heart
[18] I do not mean to imply that all our actions spring only from the sober deliberations of our reason. I am very far from calling only those actions "human" in the highest sense, which proceed from abstract judgments. But as soon as our conduct rises above the sphere of the satisfaction of purely animal desires, our motives are always shaped by thoughts. Love, pity, and patriotism are motives of action which cannot be analyzed away into cold concepts of the understanding. It is said that here the heart, the soul, hold sway. This is no doubt true. But the heart and the soul create no motives. They presuppose them. Pity enters my heart when the thought of a person who arouses pity had appeared in my consciousness. The way to the heart is through the head.

1.11 Idealistic Thought
Love is no exception. Whenever it is not merely the expression of bare sexual instinct, it depends on the thoughts we form of the loved one. And the more we idealize the loved one in our thoughts, the more blessed is our love. Here, too, thought is the father of feeling.

1.12 Perception Of Good Qualities
It is said that love makes us blind to the failings of the loved one. But the opposite view can be taken, namely that it is precisely for the good points that love opens the eyes. Many pass by these good points without notice. One, however, perceives them, and just because he does, love awakens in his soul. What else has he done except perceive what hundreds have failed to see? Love is not theirs, because they lack the perception.

[19] From whatever point we regard the subject, it becomes more and more clear that the question of the nature of human action presupposes that of the origin of thought. I shall, therefore, turn next to this question.



Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust,
Die eine will sich von der andern trennen;
Die eine halt, in derber Liebeslust,
Sich an die Welt mit klammernden Organen;
Die andre hebt gewaltsam sich vom Dust
Zu den Gefilden hoher Ahnen.*
Faust I, 1112-1117.

2.0 Urge To Know
[1] IN these words Goethe expresses a trait which is deeply ingrained in human nature. Man is not a self-contained unity. He demands ever more than the world, of itself, offers him. Nature has endowed us with needs; among them are some the satisfaction of which she leaves to our own activity. However abundant the gifts which we have

*Two souls, alas! reside within my breast,
And each withdraws from, and repels, its brother.
One with tenacious organs holds in love
And clinging lust the world in its embraces;
The other strongly sweeps, this dust above,
Into the high ancestral spaces.
Faust, Part I, Scene 2.
(Bayard Taylor's translation.)

received, still more abundant are our desires. We seem born to dissatisfaction. And our desire for knowledge is but a special instance of this unsatisfied striving. Suppose we look twice at a tree. The first time we see its branches at rest, the second time in motion. We are not satisfied with this observation. Why, we ask, does the tree appear to us now at rest, then in motion? Every glance at nature evokes in us a multitude of questions. Every phenomenon we meet presents a new problem to be solved. Every experience is to us a riddle. We observe that from the egg there emerges a creature like the mother animal, and we ask for the reason of the likeness. We observe a living being grow and develop to a determinate degree of perfection, and we seek the conditions of this experience. Nowhere are we satisfied with the facts which nature spreads out before our senses. Everywhere we seek what we call the explanation of these facts.

[2] The something more which we seek in things, over and above what is immediately given to us in them, splits our whole being into two parts. We become conscious of our opposition to the world. We oppose ourselves to the world as independent beings. The universe has for us two opposite poles: Self and World.

[3] We erect this barrier between ourselves and the world as soon as consciousness is first kindled in us. But we never cease to feel that, in spite of all, we belong to the world, that there is a connecting link between it and us, and that we are beings within, and not without, the universe.

[4] This feeling makes us strive to bridge over this opposition, and ultimately the whole spiritual striving of mankind is nothing but the bridging of this opposition. The history of our spiritual life is a continuous seeking after union between ourselves and the world. Religion, Art, and Science follow, one and all, this goal. The religious man seeks in the revelation, which God grants him, the solution of the world problem, which his Self, dissatisfied with the world of mere phenomena, sets him as a task. The artist seeks to embody in his material the ideas which are his Self, that he may thus reconcile the spirit which lives within him and the outer world. He, too, feels dissatisfied with the world of mere appearances, and seeks to mold into it that something more which his Self supplies and which transcends appearances. The thinker searches for the laws of phenomena. He strives to master by thought what he experiences by observation. Only when we have transformed the world-content into our thought-content do we recapture the connection which we had ourselves broken off. We shall see later that this goal can be reached only if we penetrate much more deeply than is often done into the nature of the scientist's problem.

The whole situation, as I have here stated it, meets us, on the stage of history, in the conflict between the one-world theory, or Monism, and the two-world theory, or Dualism. Dualism pays attention only to the separation between the Self and the World, which the consciousness of man has brought about. All its efforts consist in a vain struggle to reconcile these opposites, which it calls now Mind and Matter, now Subject and Object, now Thought and Appearance. The Dualist feels that there must be a bridge between the two worlds, but is not able to find it. In so far as man is aware of himself as "I", he cannot but put down this "I" in thought on the side of Spirit; and in opposing to this "I" the world, he is bound to reckon on the world's side the realm of percepts given to the senses, i.e., the Material World. In doing so, man assigns a position to himself within this very antithesis of Spirit and Matter. He is the more compelled to do so because his own body belongs to the Material World. Thus the "I", or Ego, belongs as a part to the realm of Spirit ; the material objects and processes which are perceived by the senses belong to the "World". All the riddles which belong to Spirit and Matter, man must inevitably rediscover in the fundamental riddle of his own nature. Monism pays attention only to the unity and tries either to deny or to slur over the opposites, present though they are. Neither of these two points of view can satisfy us, for they do not do justice to the facts. The Dualist sees in Mind (Self) and Matter (World) two essentially different entities, and cannot therefore understand how they can interact with one another. How should Mind be aware of what goes on in Matter, seeing that the essential nature of Matter is quite alien to Mind? Or how in these circumstances should Mind act upon Matter, so as to translate its intentions into actions? The most absurd hypotheses have been propounded to answer these questions. However, up to the present the Monists are not in a much better position. They have tried three different ways of meeting the difficulty. Either they deny Mind and become Materialists; or they deny Matter in order to seek their salvation as Spiritualists; or they assert that, even in the simplest entities in the world, Mind and Matter are indissolubly bound together, so that there is no need to marvel at the appearance in man of these two modes of existence, seeing that they are never found apart.

2.1 Materialism
[5] Materialism can never offer a satisfactory explanation of the world. For every attempt at an explanation must begin with the formation of thoughts about the phenomena of the world. Materialism, thus, begins with the thought of Matter or material processes. But, in doing so, it is ipso facto confronted by two different sets of facts, viz., the material world and the thoughts about it. The Materialist seeks to make these latter intelligible by regarding them as purely material processes. He believes that thinking takes place in the brain, much in the same way that digestion takes place in the animal organs. Just as he ascribes mechanical, chemical, and organic processes to Nature, so he credits her in certain circumstances with the capacity to think. He overlooks that, in doing so, he is merely shifting the problem from one place to another. Instead of to himself he ascribes the power of thought to Matter. And thus he is back again at his starting-point. How does Matter come to think of its own nature? Why is it not simply satisfied with itself and content to accept its own existence? The Materialist has turned his attention away from the definite subject, his own self, and occupies himself with an indefinite shadowy somewhat. And here the old problem meets him again. The materialistic theory cannot solve the problem; it can only shift it to another place.

2.2 Spiritualism
[6] What of the Spiritualistic theory? The pure Spiritualist denies to Matter all independent existence and regards it merely as a product of Spirit. But when he tries to apply this theory to the solution of the riddle of his own human nature, he finds himself caught in a tight place. Over against the "I", or Ego, which can be ranged on the side of Spirit, there stands directly the world of the senses. No spiritual approach to it seems open. It has to be perceived and experienced by the Ego with the help of material processes. Such material processes the Ego does not discover in itself, so long as it regards its own nature as exclusively spiritual. From all that it achieves by its own spiritual effort, the sensible world is ever excluded. It seems as if the Ego had to concede that the world would be a closed book to it, unless it could establish a non-spiritual relation to the world.

2.3 Realism
Similarly, when it comes to acting, we have to translate our purposes into realities with the help of material things and forces. We are, therefore, dependent on the outer world. The most extreme Spiritualist, or, if you prefer it, Idealist, is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He attempts to deduce the whole edifice of the world from the "Ego". What he has actually accomplished is a magnificent thought-picture of the world, without any empirical content. As little as it is possible for the Materialist to argue the Mind away, just as little is it possible for the Idealist to do without the outer world of Matter.

2.4 Idealism
[7] When man directs his theoretical reflection upon the Ego, he perceives, in the first instance, only the work of the Ego in the conceptual elaboration of the world of ideas. Hence a philosophy the direction of which is spiritualistic, may feel tempted, in view of man's own essential nature, to acknowledge nothing of spirit except this world of ideas. In this way Spiritualism becomes one-sided Idealism. In stead of going on to penetrate through the world of ideas to the spiritual world, idealism identifies the spiritual world with the world of ideas itself. As a result, it is compelled to remain fixed with its world-view in the circle of the activity of the Ego, as if it were bewitched.

2.5 Materialistic Idealism
[8] A curious variant of Idealism is to be found in the theory which F. A. Lange has put forward in his widely read History of Materialism. He holds that the Materialists are quite right in declaring all phenomena, including our thoughts, to be the product of purely material processes, but, in turn, Matter and its processes are for him themselves the product of our thinking.

"The senses give us only the effects of things, not true copies, much less the things themselves. But among these mere effects we must include the senses themselves together with the brain and the molecular vibrations which we assume to go on there."

That is, our thinking is produced by the material processes, and these by our thinking. Lange's philosophy is thus nothing more than the philosophical analogon of the story of honest Baron Munchhausen, who holds himself up in the air by his own pigtail.

2.6 Indivisible Unity
[9] The third form of Monism is that which finds even in the simplest real (the atom) the union of both Matter and Mind. But nothing is gained by this either, except that the question, the origin of which is really in our consciousness, is shifted to another place. How comes it that the simple real manifests itself in a two-fold manner, if it is an indivisible unity?

2.7 Polarity Of Consciousness
[10] Against all these theories we must urge the fact that we meet with the basal and fundamental opposition first in our own consciousness. It is we ourselves who break away from the bosom of Nature and contrast ourselves as Self with the World. Goethe has given classic expression to this in his essay Nature. "Living in the midst of her (Nature) we are strangers to her. Ceaselessly she speaks to us, yet betrays none of her secrets." But Goethe knows the reverse side too: "Mankind is all in her, and she in all mankind."

2.8 Feeling Impulse
[11] However true it may be that we have estranged ourselves from Nature, it is none the less true that we feel we are in her and belong to her. It can be only her own life which pulses also in us.

2.9 Knowing Nature Within
[12] We must find the way back to her again. A simple reflection may point this way out to us. We have, it is true, torn ourselves away from Nature, but we must none the less have carried away something of her in our own selves. This quality of Nature in us we must seek out, and then we shall discover our connection with her once more. Dualism neglects to do this. It considers the human mind as a spiritual entity utterly alien to Nature and attempts somehow to hitch it on to Nature. No wonder that it cannot find the coupling link. We can find Nature outside of us only if we have first learnt to know her within us. The Natural within us must be our guide to her. This marks out our path of inquiry. We shall attempt no speculations concerning the interaction of Mind and Matter. We shall rather probe into the depths of our own being, to find there those elements which we saved in our flight from Nature.

2.10 Something More Than "I"
[13] The examination of our own being must bring the solution of the problem. We must reach a point where we can say, "This is no longer merely ' I ', this is something which is more than ' I '."

2.11 Description Of Consciousness
[14] I am well aware that many who have read thus far will not consider my discussion in keeping with "the present state of science." To such criticism I can reply only that I have so far not been concerned with any scientific results, but simply with the description of what every one of us experiences in his own consciousness. That a few phrases have slipped in about attempts to reconcile Mind and the World has been due solely to the desire to elucidate the actual facts. I have therefore made no attempt to give to the expressions "Self," "Mind," "World," "Nature," the precise meaning which they usually bear in Psychology and Philosophy.

2.12 Facts Without Interpretation
The ordinary consciousness ignores the sharp distinctions of the sciences, and so far my purpose has been solely to record the facts of everyday experience.To object that the above discussions have been unscientific would be like quarreling with the reciter of a poem for failing to accompany every line at once with aesthetic criticism. I am concerned, not with the way in which science, so far, has interpreted consciousness, but with the way in which we experience it in every moment of our lives.



3.0 Reflective Thinking
[1] WHEN I observe how a billiard ball, when struck, communicates its motion to another, I remain entirely without influence on the process before me. The direction and velocity of the motion of the second ball is determined by the direction and velocity of the first. As long as I remain a mere spectator, I can say nothing about the motion of the second ball until after it has happened. It is quite different when I begin to reflect on the content of my observations. The purpose of my reflection is to construct concepts of the process. I connect the concept of an elastic ball with certain other concepts of mechanics, and consider the special circumstances which obtain in the instance in question. I try, in other words, to add to the process which takes place without my interference, a second process which takes place in the conceptual sphere. This latter process is dependent on me. This is shown by the fact that I can rest content with the observation, and renounce all search for concepts if I have no need of them. If, therefore, this need is present, then I am not content until I have established a definite connection among the concepts, ball, elasticity, motion, impact, velocity, etc., so that they apply to the observed process in a definite way. As surely as the occurrence of the observed process is independent of me, so surely is the occurrence of the conceptual process dependent on me.

[2] We shall have to consider later whether this activity of mine really proceeds from my own independent being, or whether those modern physiologists are right who say that we cannot think as we will, but that we must think exactly as the thoughts and thought-connections determine, which happen to be in our minds at any given moment. (Cp. Ziehen, Leitfaden der Physiologischen Psychologie, Jena, 1893, p. 171.) For the present we wish merely to establish the fact that we constantly feel obliged to seek for concepts and connections of concepts, which stand in definite relation to the objects and processes which are given independently of us. Whether this activity is really ours, or whether we are determined to it by an unalterable necessity, is a question which we need not decide at present. What is unquestionable is that the activity appears, in the first instance, to be ours. We know for certain that concepts are not given together with the objects to which they correspond. My being the agent in the conceptual process may be an illusion; but there is no doubt that to immediate observation I appear to be active. Our present question is, What do we gain by supplementing a process with a conceptual counterpart?

[3] There is a far-reaching difference between the ways in which, for me, the parts of a process are related to one another before, and after, the discovery of the corresponding concepts. Mere observation can trace the parts of a given process as they occur, but their connection remains obscure without the help of concepts. I observe the first billiard ball move towards the second in a certain direction and with a certain velocity. What will happen after the impact I cannot tell in advance. I can once more only watch it happen with my eyes. Suppose someone obstructs my view of the field where the process is happening, at the moment when the impact occurs, then, as mere spectator, I remain ignorant of what goes on. The situation is very different, if prior to the obstructing of my view I have discovered the concepts corresponding to the nexus of events. In that case I can say what occurs, even when I am no longer able to observe. There is nothing in a merely observed process or object to show its relation to other processes or objects. This relation becomes manifest only when observation is combined with thought.

[4] Observation and thought are the two points of departure for all the spiritual striving of man, in so far as he is conscious of such striving. The workings of common sense, as well as the most complicated scientific researches, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our minds. Philosophers have started from various ultimate antithesis, Idea and Reality, Subject and Object, Appearance and Thing-in-itself, Ego and Non-Ego, Idea and Will, Concept and Matter, Force and Substance, the Conscious and the Unconscious. It is, however, easy to show that all these antithesis are subsequent to that between Observation and Thought, this being for man the most important.

[5] Whatever principle we choose to lay down, we must either prove that somewhere we have observed it, or we must enunciate it in the form of a clear concept which can be rethought by any other thinker. Every philosopher who sets out to discuss his fundamental principles, must express them in conceptual form and thus use thought. He therefore indirectly admits that his activity presupposes thought. We leave open here the question whether thought or something else is the chief factor in the development of the world. But it is at any rate clear that the philosopher can gain no knowledge of this development without thought. In the occurrence of phenomena thought may play a secondary part, but it is quite certain that it plays a chief part in the construction of a theory about them.

[6] As regards observation, our need of it is due to our organization. Our thought about a horse and the object "horse" are two things which for us have separate existences. The object is accessible to us only by means of observation. As little as we can construct a concept of a horse by mere staring at the animal, just as little are we able by mere thought to produce the corresponding object.

3.1 Observation Of Thought
[7] In time observation actually precedes thought. For we become familiar with thought itself in the first instance by observation. It was essentially a description of an observation when, at the beginning of this chapter, we gave an account of how thought is kindled by an objective process and transcends the merely given. Whatever enters the circle of our experiences becomes an object of apprehension to us first through observation. All contents of sensations, all perceptions, intuitions, feelings, acts of will, dreams and fancies, images, concepts, ideas, all illusions and hallucinations, are given to us through observation.

[8] But thought as an object of observation differs essentially from all other objects. The observation of a table, or a tree, occurs in me as soon as those objects appear within the horizon of my field of consciousness. Yet I do not, at the same time, observe my thought about these things. I observe the table, but I carry on a process of thought about the table without, at the same moment observing this thought-process. I must first take up a standpoint outside of my own activity, if I want to observe my thought about the table, as well as the table. Whereas the observation of things and processes, and the thinking about them, are everyday occurrences making up the continuous current of my life, the observation of the thought-process itself is an exceptional attitude to adopt. This fact must be taken into account, when we come to determine the relations of thought as an object of observation to all other objects. We must be quite clear about the fact that, in observing the thought-processes, we are applying to them a method which is our normal attitude in the study of all other objects in the world, but which in the ordinary course of that study is usually not applied to thought itself.

3.2 Formation Of Concept
[9] Someone might object that what I have said about thinking applies equally to feeling and to all other mental activities. Thus it is said that when, e.g., I have a feeling of pleasure, the feeling is kindled by the object, but it is this object I observe, not the feeling of pleasure. This objection, however, is based on an error. Pleasure does not stand at all in the same relation to its object as the concept constructed by thought. I am conscious, in the most positive way, that the concept of a thing is formed through my activity; whereas a feeling of pleasure is produced in me by an object in a way similar to that in which, e.g., a change is caused in an object by a stone which falls on it. For observation, a pleasure is given in exactly the same way as the event which causes it. The same is not true of concepts. I can ask why an event arouses in me a feeling of pleasure. But I certainly cannot ask why an occurrence causes in me a certain number of concepts. The question would be simply meaningless. In thinking about an occurrence, I am not concerned with it as an effect on me. I learn nothing about myself from knowing the concepts which correspond to the observed change caused in a pane of glass by a stone thrown against it. But I do learn something about myself when I know the feeling which a certain occurrence arouses in me. When I say of an object which I perceive, "this is a rose," I say absolutely nothing about myself; but when I say of the same thing that "it causes a feeling of pleasure in me," I characterize not only the rose, but also myself in my relation to the rose.

3.3 Thinking Contemplation Of Object
[10] There can, therefore, be no question of putting thought and feeling on a level as objects of observation. And the same could easily be shown of other activities of the human mind. Unlike thought, they must be classed with any other observed objects or events. The peculiar nature of thought lies just in this, that it is an activity which is directed solely on the observed object and not on the thinking subject. This is apparent even from the way in which we express our thoughts about an object, as distinct from our feelings or acts of will. When I see an object and recognize it as a table, I do not as a rule say, "I am thinking of a table," but, "this is a table." On the other hand, I do say, "I am pleased with the table." In the former case, am not at all interested in stating that I have entered into a relation with the table; whereas, in the second case, it is just this relation which matters. In saying, "I am thinking of a table," I adopt the exceptional point of view characterized above, in which something is made the object of observation which is always present in our mental activity, without being itself normally an observed object.

[11] The peculiar nature of thought consists just in this, that the thinker forgets his thinking while actually engaged in it. It is not thinking which occupies his attention, but rather the object of thought which he observes.

[12] The first point, then, to notice about thought is that it is the unobserved element in our ordinary mental life.

[13] The reason why we do not notice the thinking which goes on in our ordinary mental life is no other than this, that it is our own activity. Whatever I do not myself produce appears in my field of consciousness as an object; I contrast it with myself as something the existence of which is independent of me. It forces itself upon me. I must accept it as the presupposition of my thinking. As long as I think about the object, I am absorbed in it, my attention is turned on it. To be thus absorbed in the object is just to contemplate it by thought. I attend, not to my activity, but to its object. In other words, whilst I am thinking I pay no heed to my thinking which is of my own making, but only to the object of my thinking which is not of my making.

3.4 Thinking Contemplation Of Thought
[14] I am, moreover, in exactly the same position when I adopt the exceptional point of view and think of my own thought-processes. I can never observe my present thought, I can only make my past experiences of thought-processes subsequently the objects of fresh thoughts. If I wanted to watch my present thought, I should have to split myself into two persons, one to think, the other to observe this thinking. But this is impossible. I can only accomplish it in two separate acts. The observed thought-processes are never those in which I am actually engaged but others. Whether, for this purpose, I make observations on my own former thoughts, or follow the thought-processes of another person, or finally, as in the example of the motions of the billiard balls, assume an imaginary thought-process, is immaterial.

[15] There are two things which are incompatible with one another: productive activity and the theoretical contemplation of that activity. This is recognized even in the First Book of Moses. It represents God as creating the world in the first six days, and only after its completion is any contemplation of the world possible: "And God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good." The same applies to our thinking. It must be there first, if we would observe it.

3.5 Know Content Of Concept
[16] The reason why it is impossible to observe the thought-process in its actual occurrence at any given moment, is the same as that which makes it possible for us to know it more immediately and more intimately than any other process in the world. Just because it is our own creation do we know the characteristic features of its course, the manner in which the process, in detail, takes place. What in the other spheres of observation we can discover only indirectly, viz., the relevant objective nexus and the relations of the individual objects, that is known to us immediately in the case of thought. I do not know off-hand why, for perception, thunder follows lightning, but I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with that of lightning. It does not matter for my argument whether my concepts of thunder and lightning are correct. The connection between the concepts I have is clear to me, and that through the very concepts themselves.

3.6 Guided By Content Of Thought
[17] This transparent clearness in the observation of our thought-processes is quite independent of our knowledge of the physiological basis of thought. I am speaking here of thought in the sense in which it is the object of our observation of our own mental activity. For this purpose it is quite irrelevant how one material process in my brain causes or influences another, whilst I am carrying on a process of thought. What I observe, in studying a thought-process, is, not what process in my brain connects the concept of thunder with that of lightning, but what is my reason for bringing these two concepts into a definite relation. Introspection shows that, in linking thought with thought, I am guided by their content, not by the material processes in the brain. This remark would be quite superfluous in a less materialistic age than ours. Today, however, when there are people who believe that, when we know what matter is, we shall know also how it thinks, it is necessary to affirm the possibility of speaking of thought without trespassing on the domain of brain physiology. Many people today find it difficult to grasp the concept of thought in its purity. Anyone who challenges the account of thought which I have given here, by quoting Cabanis' statement that "the brain secretes thoughts as the liver does gall or the spittle-glands spittle, etc." simply does not know of what I am talking. He attempts to discover thought by the same method of mere observation which we apply to the other objects that make up the world. But he cannot find it in this way, because, as I have shown, it eludes just this ordinary observation. Whoever cannot transcend Materialism lacks the ability to throw himself into the exceptional attitude I have described, in which he becomes conscious of what in all other mental activity remains unconscious. It is as useless to discuss thought with one who is not willing to adopt this attitude, as it would be to discuss color with, a blind man. Let him not imagine, however, that we regard physiological processes as thought. He fails to explain thought, because he is not even aware that it is there.

3.7 I Produce My Content Of Thought
[18] For every one, however, who has the ability to observe thought, and with good will every normal man has this ability, this observation is the most important he can make. For he observes something which he himself produces. He is not confronted by what is to begin with a strange object, but by his own activity. He knows how that which he observes has come to be. He perceives clearly its connections and relations. He gains a firm point from which he can, with well-founded hopes, seek an explanation of the other phenomena of the world.

[19] The feeling that he had found such a firm foundation, induced the father of modern philosophy, Descartes, to base the whole of human knowledge on the principle, "I think, therefore I am." All other things, all other processes, are independent of me. Whether they be truth, or illusion, or dream, I know not. There is only one thing of which I am absolutely certain, for I myself am the author of its indubitable existence; and that is my thought. Whatever other origin it may have in addition, whether it come from God or from elsewhere, of one thing I am sure, that it exists in the sense that I myself produce it. Descartes had, to begin with, no justification for reading any other meaning into his principle. All he had a right to assert was that, in apprehending myself as thinking, I apprehend myself, within the world-system, in that activity which is most uniquely characteristic of me. What the added words "therefore I am" are intended to mean has been much debated. They can have a meaning on one condition only. The simplest assertion I can make of a thing is, that it is, that it exists. What kind of existence, in detail, it has, can in no case be determined on the spot, as soon as the thing enters within the horizon of my experience. Each object must be studied in its relations to others, before we can determine the sense in which we can speak of its existence. An experienced process may be a complex of percepts, or it may be a dream, an hallucination, etc. In short, I cannot say in what sense it exists. I can never read off the kind of existence from the process itself, for I can discover it only when I consider the process in its relation to other things. But this, again, yields me no knowledge beyond just its relation to other things. My inquiry touches firm ground only when I find an object, the reason of the existence of which I can gather from itself. Such an object I am myself in so far as I think, for I qualify my existence by the determinate and self-contained content of my thought-activity. From here I can go on to ask whether other things exist in the same or in some other sense.

3.8 Remain Within Thought
[20] When thought is made an object of observation, something which usually escapes our attention is added to the other observed contents of the world. But the usual manner of observation, such as is employed also for other objects, is in no way altered. We add to the number of objects of observation, but not to the number of methods. When we are observing other things, there enters among the world-processes—among which I now include observation—one process which is overlooked. There is present something different from every other kind of process, something which is not taken into account. But when I make an object of my own thinking, there is no such neglected element present. For what lurks now in the background is just thought itself over again. The object of observation is qualitatively identical with the activity directed upon it. This is another characteristic feature of thought-processes. When we make them objects of observation, we are not compelled to do so with the help of something qualitatively different, but can remain within the realm of thought.

[21] When I weave a tissue of thoughts round an independently given object, I transcend my observation, and the question then arises, What right have I to do this? Why do I not passively let the object impress itself on me? How is it possible for my thought to be relevantly related to the object? These are questions which every one must put to himself who reflects on his own thought-processes. But all these questions lapse when we think about thought itself. We then add nothing to our thought that is foreign to it, and therefore have no need to justify any such addition.

3.9 Create Before Knowing
[22] Schelling says: "To know Nature means to create Nature." If we take these words of the daring philosopher of Nature literally, we shall have to renounce for ever all hope of gaining knowledge of Nature. For Nature after all exists, and if we have to create it over again, we must know the principles according to which it has originated in the first instance. We should have to borrow from Nature as it exists the conditions of existence for the Nature which we are about to create. But this borrowing, which would have to precede the creating, would be a knowing of Nature, and would be this even if after the borrowing no creation at all were attempted. The only kind of Nature which it would be possible to create without previous knowledge, would be a Nature different from the existing one.

[23] What is impossible with Nature, viz., creation prior to knowledge, that we accomplish in the act of thought. Were we to refrain from thinking until we had first gained knowledge of it, we should never think at all. We must resolutely think straight ahead, and then afterwards by introspective analysis gain knowledge of our own processes. Thus we ourselves create the thought-processes which we then make objects of observation. The existence of all other objects is provided for us without any activity on our part.

[24] My contention that we must think before we can make thought an object of knowledge, might easily be countered by the apparently equally valid contention that we cannot wait with digesting until we have first observed the process of digestion. This objection would be similar to that brought by Pascal against Descartes, when he asserted we might also say "I walk, therefore I am." Certainly I must digest resolutely and not wait until I have studied the physiological process of digestion. But I could only compare this with the analysis of thought if, after digestion, I set myself not to analyze it by thought, but to eat and digest it. It is not without reason that, while digestion cannot become the object of digestion, thought can very well become the object of thought.

[25] This then is indisputable, that in thinking we have got hold of one bit of the world-process which requires our presence if anything is to happen. And that is the very point that matters. The very reason why things seem so puzzling is just that I play no part in their production. They are simply given to me, whereas I know how thought is produced. Hence there can be no more fundamental starting-point than thought from which to regard all world-processes.

3.10 Self-Supporting Thought
[26] I should like still to mention a widely current error which prevails with regard to thought. It is often said that thought, in its real nature, is never experienced. The thought-processes which connect our perceptions with one another, and weave about them a network of concepts, are not at all the same as those which our analysis afterwards extracts from the objects of perception, in order to make them the object of study. What we have unconsciously woven into things is, so we are told, something widely different from what subsequent analysis recovers out of them.

[27] Those who hold this view do not see that it is impossible to escape from thought. I cannot get outside thought when I want to observe it. We should never forget that the distinction between thought which goes on unconsciously and thought which is consciously analyzed, is a purely external one and irrelevant to our discussion. I do not in any way alter a thing by making it an object of thought. I can well imagine that a being with quite different sense-organs, and with a differently constructed intelligence, would have a very different idea of a horse from mine, but I cannot think that my own thought becomes different because I make it an object of knowledge. I myself observe my own processes. We are not talking here of how my thought-processes appear to an intelligence different from mine, but how they appear to me. In any case, the idea which another mind forms of my thought cannot be truer than the one which I form myself. Only if the thought-processes were not my own, but the activity of a being quite different from me, could I maintain that, notwithstanding my forming a definite idea of these thought-processes, their real nature was beyond my comprehension.

[28] So far, there is not the slightest reason why I should regard my thought from any other point of view than my own. I contemplate the rest of the world by means of thought. How should I make of my thought an exception?

[29] I think I have given sufficient reasons for making thought the starting-point for my theory of the world. When Archimedes had discovered the lever, he thought he could lift the whole cosmos out of its hinges, if only he could find a point of support for his instrument. He needed a point which was self-supporting. In thought we have a principle which is self-subsisting. Let us try, therefore, to understand the world starting with thought as our basis. Thought can be grasped by thought. The question is whether by thought we can also grasp something other than thought.

3.11 Impartial Consideration Of Thinking
[30] I have so far spoken of thought without taking any account of its vehicle, the human consciousness. Most present-day philosophers would object that, before there can be thought, there must be consciousness. Hence we ought to start, not from thought, but from consciousness. There is no thought, they say without consciousness. In reply I would urge that, in order to clear up the relation between thought and consciousness, I must think about it. Hence I presuppose thought. One might, it is true, retort that, though a philosopher who wishes to understand consciousness, naturally makes use of thought, and so far presupposes it, in the ordinary course of life thought arises within consciousness and therefore presupposes that. Were this answer given to the world-creator, when he was about to create thought, it would, without doubt, be to the point. Thought cannot, of course, come into being before consciousness. The philosopher, however, is not concerned with the creation of the world, but with the understanding of it. Hence he is in search of the starting-point, not for creation, but for the understanding of the world. It seems to me very strange that philosophers are reproached for troubling themselves, above all, about the correctness of their principles, instead of turning straight to the objects which they seek to understand. The world-creator had above all to know how to find a vehicle for thought; the philosopher must seek a firm basis for the understanding of what is given. What does it help us to start with consciousness and make it an object of thought, if we have not first inquired how far it is possible at all to gain any knowledge of things by thought?

[31] We must first consider thought quite impartially without relation to a thinking subject or to an object of thought. For subject and object are both concepts constructed by thought. There is no denying that thought must be understood before anything else can be understood. Whoever denies this, fails to realize that man is not the first link in the chain of creation but the last. Hence, in order to explain the world by means of concepts, we cannot start from the elements of existence which came first in time, but we must begin with those which are nearest and most intimately connected with us. We cannot, with a leap, transport ourselves to the beginning of the world, in order to begin our analysis there, but we must start from the present and see whether we cannot advance from the later to the earlier. As long as Geology fabled fantastic revolutions to account for the present state of the earth, it groped in darkness. It was only when it began to study the processes at present at work on the earth, and from these to argue back to the past, that it gained a firm foundation. As long as Philosophy assumes all sorts of principles, such as atom, motion, matter, will, the unconscious, it will hang in the air. The philosopher can reach his goal only if he adopts that which is last in time as first in his theory. This absolutely last in the world-process is thought.

3.12 Application Of Thought
[32] There are people who say it is impossible to ascertain with certainty whether thought is right or wrong, and that, so far, our starting-point is a doubtful one. It would be just as intelligent to raise doubts as to whether a tree is in itself right or wrong. Thought is a fact, and it is meaningless to speak of the truth or falsity of a fact. I can, at most, be in doubt as to whether thought is rightly employed, just as I can doubt whether a certain tree supplies wood adapted to the making of this or that useful object. It is just the purpose of this book to show how far the application of thought to the world is right or wrong. I can understand anyone doubting whether, by means of thought, we can gain any knowledge of the world, but it is unintelligible to me how anyone can doubt that thought in itself is right.

Addition to the Revised Edition (1918) 
[1] In the preceding discussion I have pointed out the importance of the difference between thinking and all other activities of mind. This difference is a fact which is patent to genuinely unprejudiced observation. An observer who does not try to see the facts without preconception will be tempted to bring against my argumentation such objections as these: When I think about a rose, there is involved nothing more than a relation of my "I" to the rose, just as when I feel the beauty of the rose. There subsists a relation between "I" and object in thinking precisely as there does, e.g., in feeling or perceiving. Those who urge this objection fail to bear in mind that it is only in the activity of thinking that the "I," or Ego, knows itself to be identical, right into all the ramifications of the activity, with that which does the thinking. Of no other activity of mind can we say the same. For example, in a feeling of pleasure it is easy for a really careful observer to discriminate between the extent to which the Ego knows itself to be identical with what is active in the feeling, and the extent to which there is something passive in the Ego, so that the pleasure is merely something which happens to the Ego. The same applies to the other mental activities. The main thing is not to confuse the "having of images" with the elaboration of ideas by thinking. Images may appear in the mind dream-wise, like vague intimations. But this is not thinking.

True, someone might now urge: If this is what you mean by "thinking," then your thinking contains willing, and you have to do, not with mere thinking, but with the will to think. However, this would justify us only in saying: Genuine thinking must always be willed thinking. But this is quite irrelevant to the characterization of thinking as this has been given in the preceding discussion. Let it be granted that the nature of thinking necessarily implies its being willed, the point which matters is that nothing is willed which, in being carried out, fails to appear to the Ego as an activity completely its own and under its own supervision. Indeed, we must say that thinking appears to the observer as through and through willed, precisely because of its nature as above defined. If we genuinely try to master all the facts which are relevant to a judgment about the nature of thinking, we cannot fail to observe that, as a mental activity, thinking has the unique character which is here in question.

[2] A reader of whose powers the author of this book has a very high opinion, has objected that it is impossible to speak about thinking as we are here doing, because the supposed observation of active thinking is nothing but an illusion. In reality, what is observed is only the results of an unconscious activity which lies at the basis of thinking. It is only because, and just because, this unconscious activity escapes observation, that the deceptive appearance of the self-existence of the observed thinking arises, just as when an illumination by means of a rapid succession of electric sparks makes us believe that we see a movement. This objection, likewise, rests solely on an inaccurate view of the facts. The objection ignores that it is the Ego itself which, identical with the thinking, observes from within its own activity. The Ego would have to stand outside the thinking in order to suffer the sort of deception which is caused by an illumination with a rapid succession of electric sparks. One might say rather that to indulge in such an analogy is to deceive oneself willfully, just as if someone, seeing a moving light, were obstinately to affirm that it is being freshly lit by an unknown hand at every point where it appears. No, whoever is bent on seeing in thought anything else than an activity produced—and observable by—the Ego has first to shut his eyes to the plain facts that are there for the looking, in order then to invent a hypothetical activity as the basis of thinking. If he does not willfully blind himself, he must recognize that all these "hypothetical additions" to thinking take him away from its real nature. Unprejudiced observation shows that nothing is to be counted as belonging to the nature of thinking except what is found in thinking itself. It is impossible to discover the cause of thinking by going outside the realm of thought.

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Philosophy Influences Politics

Maybe I will spend my time taking on Ayn Rand and her influence in politics by offering an alternative philosophy.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy of “selfish individualism” now dominates the thinking of the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. She claims to know the human being. Maybe I will contrast her selfish individualism with another philosophy of “ethical individualism”. Political platforms are an expression of values. The Republican platform is strongly influenced by Ayn Rand’s values. Are progressive values rooted in a different understanding of the human being?

“Man — every man — is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”
–Ayn Rand, 1962

“If a man strives towards sublimely great ideals, it is because such ideals are the content of his being, and to realize them brings an enjoyment compared with which the pleasure that is drawn from the satisfaction of commonplace needs is a mere nothing. Idealists delight in translating their ideals into reality.” –Rudolf Steiner, 1894

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Script Draft For Chapter 1 Introduction Video

The Philosophy Of Freedom, Chapter One Conscious Human Action

This video is an introduction to Chapter One of The Philosophy Of Freedom; Conscious Human Action.
It begins with the question, Are we free in our thought and action, or inescapably controlled by necessity?

The common belief among people is that we are free.
Freedom is implied in many of the things we say, and many of the attitudes we take.
Suppose tomorrow is a holiday.
You are considering what to do.
You can hike up a mountain or stay home and read a book.
You can fix your bike or go visit the zoo.
I appears obvious to us that we are free to determine our action, at least some of the time.

You also believe in freedom if you believe in morality.
Morality is based on free choice, the ability to choose between right and wrong.

We cannot hold people morally responsible for their actions if they are not free to make choices.
How can we justify the judgment of others unless we believe in free will.
Without free will we would be automatons who simply did whatever we were pre-programmed by nature or society to do.

Religion teaches that the Divine Creator gave free will to everyone.
Its as simple as that!
The downside of such a belief is that it is not based on knowledge.
It is faith.

Science demands more than belief.
Scientists deny free will by the fact that we are physical creatures in a physical world subject to well established natural laws.
Why would the uniformity of natural law be broken in the field of human action?
Since our action is a part of the world it is subject to the laws of cause and effect just as everything else is.
It is hard to deny that we are directed by laws of conduct when our behavior is caused by motivations, temperament, physiological processes, environmental conditions, and so on.
Religion accepts free will on faith while science rejects free will on the evidence provided by research.

But what exactly do we mean by free will?
The discussion of free will is rich and remarkable with 100's of different meanings given to freedom.
Whether freedom is even possible depends on what you mean by the word ‘free’.
Are we free when we can do whatever we wish or is freedom somehow related to quantum chance?

We can narrow down the question of freedom by asking, What is a freedom worth having?
A freedom worth having would not be vague or questionable but scientifically verifiable.
It would need to be a science of freedom that could be clearly explained and experienced.
It would be a freedom that described the advance of evolution up to the ethical individual without the need of some kind of supernatural intervention.

The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to establish a science of freedom that guides the unfoldment of free ethical individuals.
A knowledge of freedom can be used to create social and political forms that support human development and well-being.
The Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course will attempt to describe the gradual step by step development toward human freedom.

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Question by JW:

I have a concern about the overall argument of the Philosophy of Freedom.

Suppose the argument goes something like this. We are free just when our actions are permeated with thinking. Thinking is what insulates our actions from the causal nexus. For if an action has a cause, then it is not free. But in thinking we can find reasons for acting, concepts. 

What should we say about our thinking itself? It too should be capable of being free or unfree. When is it free? It is free when we understand the reasons for our thoughts, or the connections between them. This happens when we select a thought on the basis of its content. Is this process of selection free? Not necessarily. It depends how it is done. What if it is done untruly? Then we have a thought that is selected as a basis for action, untruly, and this provides the appropriate condition for the action to be free.

How can this be?

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What Happens After Bernie Sanders?

Noam Chomsky sees a lot more in the Bernie Sanders campaign than just a presidential run. “Bernie Sanders is doing courageous things and organizing a lot of people,” Chomsky told Abby Martin on Telesur’s "The Empire Files."

“That campaign ought to be directed to sustaining a popular movement which will use the election as an incentive," said Chomsky. "And unfortunately, it’s not. When the election's over, the movements will die. The only thing that’ll ever bring about meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated popular movements which don’t pay attention to the election cycle. It’s an extravaganza every four years but then we go on.”

Rudolf Steiner thought that an understanding of human freedom could be the foundation to sustain a social and political movement. A movement needs core principles to understand itself. What would a list of principles from The Philosophy Of Freedom look like that could sustain a movement? 

How do you turn ETHICAL INDIVIDUALISM into a movement? Spiritual science leaps far beyond TPOF into an unsure "belief" system. Could you connect with the times better with an INDEPENDENT PROGRESSIVE movement as TPOF can be read as contrasting CONSERVATIVES (fixed, traditional) with PROGRESSIVES (change, progress, evolving)

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Analytics shows that the majority of people who visit this website,, are under the age of 35. This is significant as the organization intended to preserve Rudolf Steiner's legacy, the General Anthroposophical Society, is growing more elderly and declining in membership. Steiner's pre-theosophy message of science and Ethical Individualism was ahead of its time and is only now finding a new audience of free spirits that is unreachable by an authoritarian Society. user age chart

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Study Course Sketch

The Study Course topic pages include a whiteboard where you can use text, paint and pics to create something for fun. To access the whiteboard only, use any...
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New Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course

Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course
I am putting together a new Philosophy Of freedom study course. Some features include:

  • Watch Videos: I will be producing 200 short videos of under 5 minutes that cover each of the main topics in the book. They will be posted at the rate of 1 or 2 per week.
  • Take Quiz: A short quiz of 5-10 questions will accompany each video. The quiz results will be sent in and recorded in each one's file.
  • Work at own pace
  • Cost: Course is free, but participants are encouraged to share what they learn with a study project or by starting a study group.

Tom Last
November 12, 2015

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